Benefits of free transit the topic of a Bfast Forum

By Staff

September 25th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Last Saturday Bfast held a Transit Users’ Forum with presentations on the state of transit in Burlington and the opportunity for riders and others to ask questions or voice concerns to officials from Burlington Transit.

Burlington Transit Director Catherine Baldelli addressing the Bfast participants.

With about 60 people in-person attending the event at the Burlington Central Public Library, and some watching via Zoom, the forum included a re-cap of Burlington Transit operations and plans by Transit Director, Catherine Baldelli; an address from Councillor Rory Nisan, Deputy Mayor for the Environment; and a keynote presentation by acclaimed economist from McMaster University, Dr. Atif Kubursi.

Doug Brown – there isn’t a bus on the face of this earth that Doug Brown wants to see carrying people.

“Burlington’s Transit Users’ Forum is unique in Canada,” said Doug Brown, chair of Burlington for Accessible Sustainable Transit (BFAST), the lead organizer of the forum. “There is no event like it anywhere else. It speaks to Burlington Transit’s commitment to engage with its riders that our transit agency supports and participates in this exercise, which is organized by citizen volunteers.”

Baldelli reminded the audience that Burlington Transit is in the midst of a 5-year strategic plan that points the way to the electrification of the fleet. But first, the system needed to be upgraded to accommodate the needs of the public. Reliability, connectivity, frequency and switching to more of a grid-like route system have all been addressed. Numerous outreach and public sessions have been instituted to keep the public informed.

“Pre-pandemic, things were looking great for the transit system, then Covid hit,” Baldelli said. “This year we are on target to match earlier ridership levels.”

McMaster University, economist Dr. Atif Kubursi spoke to transit users during a weekend Bfast meeting.

Professor Kubursi’s analysis focused on ‘The Total Benefits of Free Transit’. Benefits touch on economics, equality, addressing climate change, and social equity. Of particular note Kubursi zeroed in on free transit, something that Burlington has offered to seniors and at specific times to youth under 19.

Kubursi stated, “Free transit can be a powerful tool for promoting social equity. It eliminates transportation costs, making it more accessible to low-income individuals and families. This means that everyone, regardless of their economic status, has equal access to essential services, job opportunities, and educational institutions, ultimately reducing disparities in society.”

Free transit also invites riders to explore more of their city and the money saved on fares will, in most cases, be spent on local goods and amenities. The challenge is how to pay for free transit. “Cities must find alternative funding sources to cover the costs previously generated from ticket sales and fares.” Kubusi noted. “The success of free transit relies on changing the behaviour of commuters accustomed to using personal vehicles. Ultimately, free transit has the power to create more sustainable, equitable, and vibrant urban environments for residents and future generations.”

The forum concluded with a question and answer session featuring Baldelli, Nisan, Kubursi and Glenna Cranston, a member of BFAST.

Transit advocates attended the live event; some took part virtually.

Questions from the audience included concerns about frequency, connections, why do some buses get delayed or taken out of service suddenly and how can riders learn of the interruption, and the policy on dogs on buses (service and support dogs are allowed).

BFAST wishes to thank those organizations that supported the forum and the group looks forward to next year’s forum while it advocates for an even better transit system in Burlington.

 

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If you are a Senior and want to use free transit you will need a Presto card

By Staff

July 20th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

With all day free transit for seniors starting August 1st, people will need to get a Presto card.

Here is how you do that:

Burlington Transit is giving Seniors 65+ and youth 13-19 free PRESTO cards while supplies last. The cards can be picked up and activated at the Downtown Transit Terminal, 430 John St.

The terminal is open Monday to Friday, 8 a.m. to 6 p.m. and Saturday, 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Adult and child PRESTO cards are available for $6. Customers should bring ID so staff can give them the correct PRESTO card with the right age category assigned to it.

PRESTO cards are available for children, youth, adults and seniors for $6 at:

• all Shopper’s Drug Mart locations in Burlington
• vending machines at the GO Stations: these are issued as adult cards. Anyone purchasing a PRESTO card at one of the PRESTO vending machines will need to stop by the Downtown Transit Terminal or a Shoppers Drug Mart location to have the correct age category put on their card, if not an adult.

Tap the card – that’s all it takes

To use the PRESTO card, tap the PRESTO card as you board the bus, the same way you would tap a credit or debit card. Burlington Transit bus drivers are able to help if passengers have any questions.

For new riders, Burlington Transit is partnering with the Burlington Public Library to offer Learn to Ride sessions at various library branches this fall. Watch for information about those sessions soon.

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$50,000 to figure out if we can afford free transit for everyone every day

By Pepper Parr

July 15th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Councillor Paul Sharman: His Staff Direction stunned many.

During discussion of the free transit program that was before Counci,l Councillor Sharman stunned his colleagues when he put forward the following Staff Direction

Direct the Director of Transit to report back to the Sept. 12 CPRM meeting with information/data on ridership, as a result of:

• free transit for seniors;
• free transit for youth;
• SPLIT Pass ridership (all age groups); and
Provide cost estimates and implementation recommendations for free transit for youth — all day, every day; and
Direct the Director of Transit to investigate offering free transit for all. This would include a detailed analysis of:
• Budget impacts and 10-year forecast for both Operating Budget and Capital Budget;
• Impacts to transit service and service requirements for a successful rollout. To include resourcing, assets (conventional and specialized);
• PRESTO contract and fare integration impacts;
• Gas tax impacts;
• Regional Transit Operationalization impacts;
• Benefits for free transit including environmental, economic;
• Risks of free transit to City’s financial sustainability and service impacts and expansion;
• Impacts to specialized transit;
• Potential funding sources; and

Report back to Committee by Q4 2024; and

Authorize the Chief Financial Officer to transfer $50,000 from the Provincial Gas Tax Reserve Fund to retain a consultant to undertake this review.

Councillor Sharman: Up to a bit of mischief?

Councillor Sharman has always looked for data – the more the better. When he was putting forward his Staff Directions he gave no philosophical argument or a detailed rationale for his decision, which he has been want to do in the past.

Was it the realization that Climate Warming was a threat that has to be faced? Sharman was never a transit advocate – all he could see was big empty buses going by his house – and making too much noise to boot.

He will eventually have the data he needs – and the decision, for Sharman at least, will be revealed in that data.

What Sharman is really up against however is a population that just does not want to give up their cars and the freedom to go where they want when they want. Electrical vehicles is something those people might consider – but giving up their cars – that mind change hasn’t even begun in Burlington.

When the numbers are in – the city may find that it is something they just can’t afford.

There was once a meeting related to changing transit routes – mention was made of a change in the route in and around the Tansley Woods Community. There were several delegations from that community that tried to convince Council a  change wasn’t needed – most of the people in the community had cars, many with two vehicles and they didn’t want the noise or the fumes that came with diesel buses.

If the City is going to go free transit – will it be in a position to afford an all electric fleet ?

Sharman should, and probably does know that data is a part of the solution – changing minds is a totally different matter.

The skills to pull something like that are not what we have seen from Sharman in the past.

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Council was mute when it came to passing the Public Conduct Policy bylaw but was surprisingly open when it came to a plan to make transit free

By Pepper Parr

July 11th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It was a different City Council meeting.

Deputy Mayor Shawna Stolte chaired the City Council meeting this day.

The Mayor didn’t take part except for the several times she dropped in virtually.  Deputy Mayor Shawna Stolte had the gavel (no chain of office) and ran a different kind of meeting.

It was softer in a nice way – she was more gracious than Meed Ward usually is.  More empathetic and got through the event without a glitch.

She handled the delegations smoothly.

Council covered a very broad range of issues – we will cover is as much is as we can in the next few days.

Council basically agreed to work towards a transit service that will be free for everyone any time.  To the surprise of many, Councillor Sharman put out a Staff Direction that called for the collection of data that will be used to determine just what the cost is likely to be should all day free transit come to pass.

Councillor Sharman moved a Staff Direction that will pull together the data needed to determine just what free transit is going to cost.

Council was told of a CMHC funds that has billions to spend on housing initiatives.  We will report on that is as well.

On the negative side this Council went along with the passing of a bylaw that gives the city the power prevent a person from using city facilities.  They did this without is as much is as a single word from any Staff person explaining how they would do this – and worse still – without a single word from any member of Council – other than when they voted.

We will need to review the web cast to ensure that we are correct in saying that Mayor Meed Ward was did not vote – for the brief moments it took to tally the vote we don’t believe the Mayor was online. But we do need to confirm that.

Anne Marsden gave a blistering delegation on why Council should not do what it chose to do.

This is a matter that should be taken to the City Ombudsman.

 

 

 

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Mountainside pool to get a ribbon cutting on the 30th - hot dogs or a hamburger part of the occasion

By Staff

June 15th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Mountainside Outdoor Pool (2205 Mount Forest Dr.) is set to make a splash and re-open this summer.

A grand opening event is planned for June 30 at 3:30 p.m. with Mayor Meed Ward and members of Council to officially cut the ribbon. The community is welcome to come into Mountainside Pool for the ribbon cutting celebration followed by a free swim. Swimming at the pool will be free all weekend.

To help celebrate, Mountainside Pool visitors on June 30 will be able to get a free hotdog or hamburger, beginning at 4 p.m., while supplies last. Residents are encouraged to bring a refillable water bottle.

The pandemic and supply problems made the revitalization of the pool a challenge – Opens officially on June 30th. Former ward Councillor will be very pleased that all his early efforts made this possible. Hopefully he will be recognized.

The pool’s revitalization has created an attractive, fun, active and welcoming multi-use outdoor swimming pool. We invite the community to experience swimming and water play here and take part in free swimming on June 30 and July 1-2. Walk-in only; no registrations needed.

The ward Councillor doesn’t get even a mention in the city medias release. Would that be because he doesn’t live in the ward anymore?

Revitalization highlights include:
• A new pool with a beach entry and three separate 50M lap lanes
• Accessibility ramps
• Water spray features
• Climbing wall
• Waterslide
• Shade structures

Grand opening events
Date Time Event

June 30 3:30 to 4 p.m. Ribbon cutting
4 to 7 p.m. Free fun swim and lap swim
4 p.m. Free BBQ, while supplies last

July 1 9 to 10 a.m. Free aquafit
10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free fun swim and lap swim
1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Free fun swim and lap swim
5 to 7:30 p.m. Free fun swim and lap swim

July 2 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. Free fun swim and lap swim
1:30 to 4:30 p.m. Free fun swim and lap swim
5 to 7:30 p.m. Free fun swim and lap swim

Swimmers and participants are encouraged to use active transportation, Burlington Transit or carpool as parking is limited because of the BBQ set-up.

The pool is well used and serves on average 27,000 participants in a wide variety of activities including recreational swimming, lap swimming and learn to swim lessons each summer.

Public art
With input from public engagement, Clear Eyes Collective was chosen to create a large-scale mural as part of the Mountainside Pool Revitalization Project. The public art piece Clear Eyes Collective created is called Take a Step.

The final artwork will be unveiled in the coming weeks.

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Transit doesn't have anyone on City Council championing better transit service and getting rid of the diesel powered busses

By Pepper Parr

April 11th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Is there anyone who speaks for and about transit issues in Burlington?

The six members of Council are now all Deputy Mayors with what Mayor Meed Ward called a “portfolio” which portfolio looks into and after the transit service – the word doesn’t event appear in the list of portfolios.

Imagine seeing one of these scooting up and down Brant Street or along Fairview. They are called Autonomous Vehicles that drive along a pre-determind route, can carry up to eight passengers along with a driver who could take over the wheel if needed.

Transit sucks up a significant portion of the budget. This council is tightly focused on getting both affordable and attainable housing in place for the thousands of people who are expected to call Burlington home by 2031

They are going arrive – how will they get around the city – there is already a considerable amount of grid lock.

Sue Connor, former Director of Transit for Burlington.

There was a time when the city had one of the best transit operators in the province serving is as Director of Burlington Transit. For reasons that were never explained Sue Connors moved on and now spends a lot of her time with CUTRIC, Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium where her experience is being put to good use.

While with Burlington Connors shepherded Council through the challenge the city faced is as it began thinking how it would move away from diesel powered buses to battery or hydrogen fuel cells systems. There are significant differences between the two.

Battery powered buses have been around for some time; hydrogen is more recent. Much of the thinking about which works best is being done at CUTRIC.

Burlington doesn’t have a single member of Council with any depth of understanding about the challenges the city faces.

The current Council doesn’t seem to have much in the way of appetite for both understanding and resolving the issue.

This failure, and it is a failure not an oversight is something the city will pay for dearly in the not too distant future.

The city did declare a Climate Emergency – it sort of got left at that.  Councillor Nisan has the Environment portfolio but don’t expect him to take up the torch for buses that don’t pollute – unless there is an advantage in it for him – polishing up the profile wouldn’t be excuse enough.

There is little interest in transit in Burlington. It would be safe to say that not one member of council has been on a bus so far in this term of office. People in Burlington want to drive in their car and complain about grid lock. There is nothing exciting about transit – but if the city went after an opportunity to be a pilot site for one of these autonomous vehicles thousands of people would at least want to try one out.

Ward 1 – Councillor Kelvin Galbraith; Deputy Mayor for Business & Red Tape Reduction:
Ward 2 – Councillor Lisa Kearns; Deputy Mayor for Community Engagement & Partnerships.
Ward 3 – Councillor Rory Nisan; Deputy Mayor for the Environment
Ward 4 – Councillor Shawna Stolte; Deputy Mayor for Housing
Ward 5 – Councillor Paul Sharman; Deputy Mayor for Strategy & Budgets
Ward 6 – Councillor Angelo Bentivegna; Deputy Mayor for Recreation and Community Services

Do you see the word “transit” in the portfolios the members of Council have as Deputy Mayors ?

Transit is getting a lot of attention in other municipalities.  Whitby was the location for a pilot of the Autonomous buses driven by batteries.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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Transit Supervisor running for seat on Halton District School Board

By Pepper Parr

April 8th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Anthony Hoyes is one of five people running for the vacated Ward 1&2 Burlington seat on the Halton District School Board.

He is a ward 5 resident who works for Burlington Transit as a Supervisor where he feels his experience in dealing with people is the strength he brings to the table.

Anthony Hoyes; running for the ward 1&2 Burlington seat on the Halton District School Board

His two major issues are bullying and diversification in the Halton schools; student equity matters to Hoyes who saw the issue with the teacher at an Oakville High School in attire that many thought was very inappropriate.

Hoyes saw any decision the trustees made about the teacher as a double edged sword. The students had to be protected and the views of the parents listened to – and at the same time strong union support for the teacher was difficult to deal with when the union took the view that the rights of the teacher could not be forgotten.

He would like to see the school board he wants to sit on returning to the reason why children have to attend school – teach them the basics and do so in a safe environment and stop distracting them from issues that are not part of what they need to help them thrive.

Hoyes has never attended a school board meeting, wasn’t fully aware that the meetings are open to the public

He had no views on the Board of Education budget and has not done the public survey the board puts out. He wasn’t aware that it set out on the HDSB web site.

He was open and transparent on what he knew and didn’t know about board of education matters – believing that he would learn on the job

“This is my first time running for public office – “I’m still learning” he said.

Nominations for the by-election close on April 14th

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Financial Accountability Office Reports: Provincial spending $6.4 billion less than expected through third quarter of 2022-23

By Staff

March 1st, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The provincial government Financial Accountability Office of Ontario (FAO) released its Expenditure Monitor 2022-23: Q3 report. The report provides an update on the Province’s 2022-23 spending plan and reviews actual unaudited spending by the government over the first three quarters of the 2022-23 fiscal year (April 1, 2022 to December 31, 2022).

As of the end of the third quarter, December 31, 2022, the Province’s total spending plan was up $209 million, reaching $193.2 billion. By sector, in the third quarter, the ‘other programs’ spending plan increased by $1,137 million, followed by health ($183 million), children’s and social services ($146 million), justice ($42 million) and education ($3 million). These increases were partially offset by a $1,302 million transfer from the Contingency Fund.

Does this mean the province will begin to spend the money it has collected in taxes?

In order to manage and monitor its program spending during the fiscal year, the Province divides its spending plan into expected spending by quarter, which reflects historical spending patterns, seasonality and other factors. Over the first three quarters of 2022-23, the Province expected to spend $129.2 billion. However, actual unaudited spending was $122.8 billion. This was $6.4 billion (5.0 per cent) less than expected. All sectors spent less than expected, led by ‘other programs’ (-$3,534 million), health (-$1,251 million), education (-$844 million), children’s and social services (-$458 million), postsecondary education (-$175 million), justice (-$88 million) and interest on debt (-$87 million).

Compared to the previous year, spending over the first three quarters of 2022-23 was $2.9 billion (2.4 per cent) higher than during the same period in 2021-22. The largest year-over-year spending increase was in health ($1,119 million), followed by education ($852 million), interest on debt ($762 million), children’s and social services ($737 million), postsecondary education ($165 million) and justice ($51 million). Conversely, ‘other programs’ spending was $818 million less than during the same period in 2021-22.

Quick Facts:

Metrolynx projects eat up hundreds of millions – some projects take longer than others.

Key programs with lower-than-expected spending include Metrolinx and municipal infrastructure projects (-$1,197 million), electricity subsidy programs (-$665 million), Ministry of Infrastructure capital programs (-$644 million), public health (-$605 million), Metrolinx and municipal transit operating funding (-$462 million), social assistance programs (-$453 million), elementary and secondary education programs (-$432 million) and child care programs (-$396 million).

Programs with the largest year-over-year spending increases include child care ($762 million), payments to physicians ($518 million), drug programs ($422 million), the operation of hospitals ($353 million) and the operation of long-term care homes ($342 million).

The Province started the 2022-23 fiscal year with a total of $4.6 billion in unallocated funds in the Contingency Fund. In the second and third quarters, the Province transferred $373 million and $1,302 million, respectively, from the Contingency Fund to various programs. This results in a remaining balance in the Contingency Fund, as of December 31, of $2.9 billion.

About the FAO:

Established by the Financial Accountability Officer Act, 2013, the Financial Accountability Office (FAO) provides independent analysis on the state of the Province’s finances, trends in the provincial economy and related matters important to the Legislative Assembly of Ontario.

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Council pontificates on the 7.52% budget increase they approved - warned that there will be another just like it in 2024

By Pepper Parr

February 16th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

We are still here – find out why.

City Council was in session for a solid seven hours not including the breaks on Tuesday.

There were a lot of questions, more than enough posturing but not a word in the way of changing the budget that came as recommended from the Standing Committee.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

The tax rate that was voted on works out to $60.31 per $100,000 of Current Value Assessment (CVA)

There is a tax levy that will be applied to the repair and replacement of the infrastructure.  There was no mention of just how much that is.

There is usually a surplus in spending from the previous year that gets placed in the Tax Rate Stabilization Reserve – the amount of the surplus was not made public.

We will chase those down for you

The motion they were to vote on was split into three separate votes. The first is on the operating budget. The second is on the capital budget and the third is related to assessment growth and how they will deal with it if it is lower than expected.

The Mayor asked if there any outstanding questions; none they moved on to comments from the Councillors before the actual vote.

Councillor Sharman, who is also the Deputy Mayor of Strategy and Budgets. Go ahead and kick us off on comments.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman

“Thank you very much. I’ll be brief – I guess. I’ve been reflecting on what occurred in our budget discussions, and I realized that this is a step on the journey we’ve been on and we’ve got a long way to go yet. The sophistication that we’ve added to the budgeting system in the course of the last number of years, has led us to a point where we have a long term strategic plan or a vision as we call it.

“We have an operating plan, which we call vision to focus. And those pieces should fit together well and we need to improve that but then what we have to add to that as a costing of our official operating plan B to F and that means we are doing the budget every day of our lives from now on, because by the time we get to a budget discussion this time next year, that should not be any unknowns, we should not be having any random motions.

“They should already be dealt with. The only place where we just have a motion is where there’s clearly something missed in the budget. And I won’t get into the examples because that leads to a longer debate. But when there’s something that that has come up recently, more recently in the deliberation, then the deliberations of staff that allow that we have a reason good reason to address it. And we did that in this last budget. But we need to get discipline into this process. And we need to be alert to the fact that it is the long term that matters and that we constantly have to be thinking about financing of everything we do and we have to make our priority decisions based on the resources available to us.”

Ward 6 Councillor Angelo Bentivegna

Councillor Benevento
“My thought my thought process reviewing this budget had to do, we’re trying to balance.

“I guess from a personal standpoint, what I believed we needed now and massaging some of the rightful business cases that into the 2020 Ford budget which we know is coming later this year. Our city’s simulated budget over the next few years, we know it’s going to be challenging. That will remain to be seen when we all are aware that there are financial analysts out there who are predicting inflation to drop in 2023 to about 3% and 2% in 2024.

“So I thought that this might have been a great opportunity to balance some of the shortfall without kicking the can down the road.

“Unfortunately, for me, my motions did not pass and that’s okay. I am disappointed, but I respect the process and the discussions that we had. I would like to say that a 730 page budget book is not an easy document to review, which makes our decisions very difficult. It’s very short period of time.

“We’re not the operators, and we’re not accountants. And that’s what makes it very, very difficult for us. “We do live in a great city. We do have great services, and we have great staff. No one, including myself, wants to see any less services than we have. Having said that, I believe we need to look at our process a little bit when it comes to budgets.

“I mentioned, during the budget discussions, that I will be bringing forward a motion at an upcoming committee meeting that will direct the CFO to prepare a 2024 budget to limit the overall tax increase percentage without reducing any existing service levels. That’s how we do it at the region. And we’ll see why we can’t figure out a way to do it here in the city.”

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan

Counsellor at Nissan
“It’s been a tough budget. Very tough; it’s been tough across the province.
“Burlington has added dollars to key elements: bylaw, human resources and other areas. There was a strong justification given for every single item. I tried to find places to cut and in the end, I could only find one spot where I thought maybe we could, and even then a pretty strong justification was made.

“And here’s the hard fact: we are already lean in Burlington. Our taxes are lower than other local jurisdictions. We have been very, very lean. We can’t reduce taxes without reducing service levels We are building the city of the future while trying to reduce tax increases.

“We are being very responsible through a tough budget and yeah, kudos we’ve been doing for several years now. Active Transportation, I really appreciate my colleagues support for that.

“And Safe Streets. These are things that we all agree on. And so there’s been some really smart amendments, very strategic focus, and there’s just there’s nothing there’s no excess here. There’s just nothing left. And so that’s because of the hard work of our staff. A lot of good work here.

Councillor Kearns: “Are we making all of our budget comments under the operation? Are we waiting to the end?

Mayor: “If you have separate comments on capital and the disposition of the assessment you would make those under those two but operating is kind of the big one. Feel free to make it now.

“I’m humbled also to share on the approval of our budget for the coming year. It has been a difficult and challenging process as the pressure to manage our expenses and prioritize services has been immense. I really emphasize that immense part. Incredible work has been done with diligence and scrutiny. At the heart of our community are our residents and it’s with their future in mind that we’ve crafted this budget. We’ve worked tirelessly to ensure that essential services such as public safety customer excellence, quality of life, infrastructure, maintenance and development management will remain in front and center of our fiscal outlook. We understand that this is a time of economic difficulty for many families. That is why we also are empathetic to those who need assistance during these trying times and also have relief programs subject to availability, eligibility available through a finance department.

“There’s been tension with stakeholders and staff to drill down into further savings and cost avoidance initiatives. I’ve scrubbed this budget to little avail of further relief, and it has been significant underfunding, part of which we all have an accountability to and this budget strikes a commitment to do better and we will together Furthermore, we are focusing on environmental sustainability initiatives and livability. So we can ensure a healthy future not only for the Burlington residents of today, but for generations to come.

“It’s quite incredible to be part of a generational shift and to make these investments for generations to come. We plan on investing in energy projects over the next few years exploring creative opportunities through culture building, expanding public transit options, investing in green infrastructure improvements for the city and implementing new programs aimed at delivering transformational digital solutions. It’s our belief that by pursuing these initiatives, not only will the citizens of Burlington benefit now, but they’ll continue to reap the rewards well into the future.

“As always, it remains our priority to provide safe communities where people can flourish and take part in creating vibrant neighborhoods to reflect our collective values and objectives. With this budget in place, we believe that these goals can be achieved over time with consistent effort from local leaders and stakeholders like I want to thank everyone who has been involved in this process and for taking part in these important decisions along the way.”

Councillor Galbraith

“This was a very challenging budget. You know, we’ve definitely heard some feedback from the residents about the number and it’s not easy to swallow. But, you know, I think we did a lot of work along the way in the past year towards this budget. Improving bylaw departments approving purchasing our largest community center at budget time, we need to fund those.

“We can’t pull the funding at budget time for things we’ve already approved and all agreed to support. It just doesn’t work. We need to fund our, our, the plans for you know, active transportation we need to fund those plans and I appreciate some of the motions brought forward by my colleagues.

“They were very good and and were supported and they need to be supported. You know, I am excited about some of the staff fixes that are this budget is supporting. We have a lot of processes that were just are backlogged. They’re just not working right now. So there’s really no way around it. We have to fix our internal staffing issues. The culture is not competitive anymore. Compensation is so looking forward to supporting this budget.”

Mayor Meed Ward: “So first of all, I would like to offer some some thanks. Starting with our city manager, our CFO and the entire team of staff. This wasn’t an easy budget for you to present to us.

We recognize that and we also know that we can’t fix what we don’t know. And if there are issues in the corporation we really do rely on having a collaborative and trusting relationship with our staff to bring forward what you believe the city needs and our community needs. And you did that in in a very difficult budget year and we know this is year one of two years of difficulty so next year’s budget is going to be difficult as well. Because we are building the foundation for the future. We are not just planning for all of the services that our community needs for this term of Council.

“We are planning for the next seven generations and this budget and the next one and the future ones that we will deal with on our watch are part of putting that strong foundation into place. It makes key investments in issues and projects and services that our community has told us are important this directly responds to community feedback that we’ve heard around the need for more community amenities. So Robert Bateman High School redevelopment adaptation is funded. The Skyway Community Centre is funded with a new NHL size ice rink.

“We have park improvements that are funded active transportation, including some additional motions brought forward during committee to make sure that people have the choice of cycling walking transit to get around our city. Residents have asked us for enhanced resources around bylaw enforcement and coyote response. This is directly relating to people’s quality of life living in our community. And so we responded to that as well, as well as automated speed cameras. This is year one of a two year implementation program to make sure that we have a better way of dealing with speeding on local streets and protective protecting public safety in that way.

“And we’ve reserved our free beach parking passes for Halton residents for the next year for the next two years, actually. So we this is a very responsive budget. It also addresses ongoing impacts from COVID inflation as well as the need to be competitive to the labour market and make sure that we have the best people here to deliver the best services to our community and catching up to growth. So a lot of we’re behind the eight ball community growth has far surpassed our planned expectations and we expect that to happen again even with the new numbers assigned to us by the province. And gross never fully pays for growth.

“And of course under Bill 23. We are going to continue to lobby that the impacts and the hole in our budget created by that bill be erased and that we’d be made whole so that we can collect what we need to build the community services, infrastructure and other amenities that a growing community needs. So we’re playing catch up with his budget and the next. And a reminder to folks that your overall budget includes three levels of government. It includes Halton Region services, you get paramedics, waste management, public health, social services, housing and so much more. And of course, also public education. We we are the collection agency for local investment in education.

“So you get all of that for about another $1.50 a day in this budget and even after all of that our tax rate will be lower than municipalities of our size. So I’m very excited about what this budget delivers by way of services and amenities to our community and setting a foundation for a very strong future in the short term as well as seven generations out. So with that I’m not seeing any other speakers to this item. So I will we will turn it to the clerk to call the vote. Go ahead.

Councillor Galbraith’? “support”. Councillor Kearns? “support”. Councillor Nissan ? “support”. Councillor Stolte? “support”. Councillor Sharman? “support” Councillor Bentivegna ? “do not support.” Mayor Mead Ward ? “support”.

The motion carries.

Now they get to do it all over again for the Capital budget.

Mayor: ” We now have the separate vote on the capital budget for the city If anyone wishes just to speak to capital now’s your chance. Okay, I will simply say that this This budget does include an infrastructure levy we are playing catch up on State of Good Repair for for our assets, roads, community centres, buildings and we are increasing that this year because we know that we need to close the gap between the required costs of making sure that our infrastructure is kept in a state of good repair and the actual the amount that is available. So we’re going to continue to close that gap.

“We have a 20 year asset management plan. And and that’s part of what you’re getting in this budget. All right, seeing no additional speakers. To that back to the clerk for the recorded vote on this one.”

They voted: All supported except for Councillor Bentivegna who was opposed to the Capital Budget

Thank you and our final vote is with respect to assessment growth: if it is higher than the estimated 6% any increase generated goes to the tax rate stabilization reserve which we know has been relied upon heavily during COVID.

Councillor Kearns: “Thank you very much. So this is exactly where it should be going. We absolutely do need to build up that tax stabilization reserve fund. And for that reason in the year ahead with the amount of work that we’ve already done on the budget. I will not be supporting anything that comes out of one time tax rate stabilization reserve fund through the balance of the year. So I hope that everything that needs to be done has been captured in this budget and any overages or returns go right back into this reserve fund.”

Councillor Sharman: “Thank you. I think this point underlines my earlier comment, so thank you for that Councillor Kearns.  As I’ve said before, we have been on a long journey by prior councils to try to minimize tax increases to the community and they have been very successful. Of course, those kinds of steps have implications because you only have so much money and all of you at home, who are dealing with your own personal budgets and your own situations at home that caused you to have the budget that you have. Those kinds of factors apply also to this community in total. The cumulative impact of all prior years of costs is on our books today. And that would suggest to us that we have to be very conscious of the future of the organization, the future of the community, as much as on the impact on local community members today. There is no magic to this. It requires discipline, hard work and diligence. Part of it is that we have to rebuild our reserves.  I’m not going to make any comments about the way we’ve used them in the past. My point is only about the future requires more and more discipline and care. And not that we haven’t cared enough. We just got to think about it differently.”

Mayor Meed Ward: “At the moment, I will simply conclude my statements with some thanks that I left out. I want to give a huge thanks to Councillor Charmin, who is also our Deputy Mayor of strategy and budgets for your deep review. And understanding of these matters and contributing to getting us to today.  I’ve learned a lot sitting side by side with you through this process and look forward to next year in coming years.

“And I also want to thank our budget chair Councillor Kearns, who very capably led us through over seven hours of discussion in one day and we were in good hands. Our conversations as has been noted before, we’re very respectful, very thoughtful and and that is, I think, a huge testament to this council working together because it’s difficult any year in a budget year and we’ve had some tough ones. But especially when you’re looking at a significant increase like this.  People focused on what we needed to do for the community and that is evident in our discussion. So thanks to all of you. The community is better for it.

City Manager Tim Commisso made perhaps the truest comment saying “this budget could not have been done without Treasurer Joan For”  Joan added that it was a team of five financial analysts,  Meri Gjeka; Andrea Hagley; Gurpinder Grewal; and Lori Jivan who was the public face during the debates.  She seemed to have every number that was needed at her finger tips.

The same day City Communications put out a statement,

Burlington City Council has approved the city’s 2023 budget, focused on planning ahead and protecting our city’s future.

As Burlington continues to grow, the 2023 budget will make key investments to ensure our City services, amenities and infrastructure keep pace with the changing needs of the community and address the continued impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic.

Key investment priorities include:

• Enhancing front line service delivery with additional transit operators, firefighters, and bylaw and animal services staff to respond to your concerns
• Funding for two new community centres – Skyway Community Centre located at 129 Kenwood Ave. and the former Robert Bateman High School at 5151 New St.
• $72.6 million of capital investment in 2023 to keep our infrastructure assets like buildings, roads and parks in a state of good repair.
• New funding dedicated to cycling infrastructure
• New automated speed reduction program to help address local traffic concerns
• Free transit for youth (ages 13-19) on evenings and weekends

Al this is going to come to $60.31 per $100,000 of Current Value Assessment (CVA)

The property tax bill is made up of three portions, the City of Burlington (48.9%), Halton Region (33.4%), and the Boards of Education (17.7%). The overall tax increase is 7.52 per cent.

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Ontario Liberals Don’t Just Want Mike Schreiner: They Want His Party.

 

By Ray Rivers

February 5th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The provincial Liberal party is Ontario’s green party. The last decade and a half of Liberal rule from 2003 to 2018 were the greenest years in Ontario’s history.

In 2014 Ontario became one of the first jurisdictions anywhere to phase out its reliance on coal fired dirty electricity generation – the number one historical cause of global warming. That was also the single biggest reduction of carbon emissions in Canada, ever!

Ontario became Canada’s leading jurisdiction in implementing clean passive solar and wind renewable energy.

In its place Ontario became Canada’s leading jurisdiction in implementing clean passive solar and wind renewable energy. By the time they had been replaced as government, more than 92% of all the electricity in the province was being generated without using fossil fuels. Ontario led the rest of the country in wind capacity adding 5,060 MW of wind capacity between 2005 and 2019. And with 2,670 MW installed, Ontario had about 97% of Canada’s solar capacity in 2019,

The Liberals established an emissions trading regime to efficiently facilitate industrial carbon emission reductions and avoid the requirement for a carbon tax. They brought in powerful incentives for the purchase of electric vehicles (EV) and created the framework for an extensive network for EV charging across the province, including in apartments and condos. And the Liberals created the Greenbelt in 2005, the most extensive protective barrier to urban sprawl anywhere in the world.

It is questionable that the Greens or NDP could have practically done more to transition the province towards energy sustainability and on the path to reducing Ontario’s carbon footprint. In fact the changes the Liberals introduced so threatened the dyed-in-the-wool conservatives, those with vested interests in oil and gas, and the climate change deniers, that they were booted out by the elect-Doug-Ford dinosaurs.

For those that read my columns leading up to the last provincial election you’d remember that Mike Schreiner won the debates hands down. He hit the points the Liberal and NDP leaders only slept through, and took Ford to task, not only on his environmental policies but health care failures as well. So he is not only a good leader for the Greens but, if debates mean anything, would probably be a great leader for Ontario as well.

Change the colour of tat sign to red – and it will do just fine in the next provincial election.

Hasn’t anyone in the Green Party woken up to reality and smelt the coffee. In last June’s election, that party scored only 6% of the vote, whereas the Libs and Dippers split the rest (about 25% each) of the non-Ford vote, allowing Ford a free pass to a four year virtual dictatorship. The Green Party is acting like the Ralph Nader of Ontario politics. Left of centre Nader stole enough votes from Gore to help Bush steal the presidency in 2000.

There was a letter from some 40 prominent Liberals inviting Schreiner to come over and lead their party. In response some 75 Greens penned a response saying that the Libs should join them Greens. It’s a brilliant idea. As someone famous once said, ‘a rose by another name would smell as sweet’.

So call it the Liberal Greens or the Green Libs or whatever, but get your collective act together and stop Doug Ford before he does even more damage to this province than he already has. If you love this province, that is.

Ray Rivers, a Gazette Contributing Editor, writes regularly applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Family doctors

Those gas plants

Greens think Liberals are trying to steal their leader

National Post thinks pursuit of green party leader is a new low for Ontario Liberals

Eight reason why Schreiner is a good fit for the Liberals

Ford for got what he learned when he was a municipal councillor

 

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Public gets a chance to opine on the Budget - 65 people take part

By Pepper Parr

January 21st, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There weren’t that many people on the Zoom presentation but the 65 people that did take part seemed to be enough for Mayor Meed Ward.

The presentation that was given was pretty basic.

The Budget Book delivered to Council members is available on line – all 710 + pages.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman admitted that everyone was surprised when the early draft of the budget was very close to 8%. It did get whittled down a little by the time the public got to see the document. The 7.08 isn’t final.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman

There are a few Councillors who have some spending plans of their own. The procedure used has each Councillor filing a form suggesting where they would like to see cuts and where they would like to see some spending.  It looked like there were just two members of Council taking part – there were 18 staff people taking part which included the City Manager

But if you listened carefully there was some good news.

Burlington Transit will be doing an On Demand pilot service in 2023

Youth using transit increased in 2022

MPAC, Municipal Property Assessment Corporation is the organization that determines the value of your home. The taxes you pay are based on what the assessment value you of the house.

We learned that MPAC did not do any assessments during the pandemic – so the assessed value of your home will be what it was in 2020. That number appears on the tax bill.

While no one likes the 2023 budget number 7% the public learned that it won’t be much different in 2024.

Cities rely on assessment growth to increase how much tax they can collect, in Burlington the growth of the assessment base has been in a slump.

With the thousands of new housing units in the pipeline – which can run from something on a planners desk or waiting for a hearing at the Ontario Land Tribunal, assessment will grow – but it will tax at least three and maybe as much as five for that assessment to grow.

This Council has decided that it needs to spend now to be certain that the things people expect – the new Skyway Arena and the re-development of the Bateman High School property are in place. A lot of debt has been taken on and today’s population has to service that debt

A number of people wanted to know why the Master Cycling Plan that was approved by Council has not been funded. No one really got much in the way of a clear answer.

People tuned into the call learned that some work was being done on parts of the Cycling Plan buy that what Council approved is not part of the budget being debated now. Ward 3

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan has indicated that he would like to see more spending on cycling.

Councillor Rory Nisan has some ideas on what could be done; watch for those.

Mayor Meed Ward went to some lengths to polish the image of the Bateman property explain that the 200,000 square feet of space that will be available for public use is double the amount of space at Tansley Woods.

A plan in the budget is to add seven new bylaw officers over the next three years and to create a new department that will handle bylaw related matters.

There were some questions that were not answered – they just ran out of time – they will be answered in a follow up that should be ready early next week.
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Councillor Sharman will do well on the budget part of his portfolio - can the same be said of the Strategic Plan part of the job?

By Pepper Parr

January 4th, 2023

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

When Mayor Meed Ward announced her Deputy Mayor initiative she assignef ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman the Strategy & Budgets portfolio.

Smart move – he is the only Councillor who could deliver on budget matters and while we have reservations as to what he will do on the Strategic Plan side – he has been around long enough and done any number of Strategic Plans to be able to get that job done.

Councillor Paul Sharman gets to wrap himself in a Strategic Plan document. what kind of a difference e might he make.

He will bring the strength and experience needed on the budget side – how he manages to square the spending that has been decided upon (Bateman High school reuse; the real cost of the Skyway Arena and the purchase of the LaSalle Park land currently owned by the city of Hamilton) is something we will know before Easter.

How Sharman manages to bring around city Treasurer Joan Ford on whatever debt level get decided upon will make for interesting political gamesmanship. Ford has dedicated her career on being not just fiscally prudent but rock solid in keeping debt to that 12.5 % limit.

The bigger, long term concern is the Strategic Plan. Whatever mistakes get made with the budget will correct themselves, at the expense of the taxpayer, but what are taxpayers for if not to clean up after the politicians?

The right Strategic Plan is something else. It is very difficult to correct the mistakes. When they get it wrong the errors tend to define the city.

The Burlington Strategic Plan is a 25 year looking forward document that takes us to 2040. It is monitored, reviewed and evaluated on an ongoing basis.

It will be interesting to see how the Staff report that is presented to Council, which will be the starting point for the 2022-2026 review, has to say about how well council has done with its Strategic Plan so far.

Strategic Plans were four year documents until then city manager James Ridge brought in outside consultants who came back with a bigger picture plan.

The city took a four pillar approach as the guidelines that would be used to come up with a plan that creates a city that grows (population), a city that moves (transit), a city that is greener (private tree by law and a city that is engaging.

Population growth has been mandated by the province – we have to do what we are told to do; transit is going to be a challenge on several levels, something we will return to. On engagement council will point to a consultant’s report that struck the Gazette as spurious. The public didn’t get to see the details on the questions that were asked.

The Gazette has never seen Paul Sharman as a visionary person; his tendency is to be more comfortable with policy and an almost limitless need for data, more data.
It seems there is never enough data for Sharman to make a decision.

The eleven half days spent producing the Strategic Plan in 2012 had ideas pouring out on to sheets of paper that were set out for review and comment. It was a group thinking at its best – the problems was that Staff and Council members didn’t see the outcomes in quite the same way.

In order to come up with a vision there has to be an understanding of the population- demography you are dealing with; the geography you have to work within and the upper level of government pressures you have to deal with.

Each member of council has a personal vision of what they would like Burlington to be. There has never been much in the way of a consensus amongst the members of council on what Burlington should be or what it could be.

What we do know is that they don’t like tall buildings and especially not in the downtown core.

The members of this council keep taking complaints about each other to the Integrity Commissioner – like grade school students squealing on each other.

They don’t seem to have found a way to work with the development community – the best Burlington has been able to do is provide the legal community far too many opportunities to send invoices setting out the billable hours they spent defending the city at Ontario Land Tribunal hearings.

Frank McKeown, on the left chats with Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman at a Strategic Planning session. The body language says it all in this picture

When the Goldring council decided to take the creating of a Strategic Plan seriously – up until that point the document was a collection of photographs, they spent several days at McMaster University site on the South Service Road.

At the closing session staff and members of council were asked to set out their priorities. The result was not a pretty picture.

Frank McKeown, Chief of Staff to Goldring at the time, commented that there wasn’t much opportunity for positive change with Staff and Council so far apart.

Is anything different today?

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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Public School Board holds 4th Human Rights Symposium - December 8th and 9th

By Staff

December 3rd, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Halton District School Board is hosting the fourth annual Human Rights Symposium on Thursday, Dec. 8 and Friday, Dec. 9, 2022 to engage in vital conversations and challenge thinking.

This year’s theme is Environmental Rights, which explores the interconnectedness of globalization, environment, Indigenous Rights, human rights and our collective responsibility to protect our planet.

The symposiums were introduced when Stuart Miller was the Director of Education; they had a bumpy start with Covid19 interesuptions – the event is niw a important part of the zzz that the Board of Education delivers to the community.

The Human Rights Symposium will feature two keynote speakers and will be a virtual event for HDSB students (Grade 7-12) and staff. Registration is not required and information on how to access the event will be shared with students and staff.

Sheila Watt-Cloutier a member of the indigenous Inuit of Arctic Canada, Watt-Cloutier began her career working for social institutions that served Inuit communities. This led to a lifetime of activism and advocacy for the rights of Inuit people, and the realization that the survival of Inuit people and culture is inexorably linked to the survival of their Arctic environment, especially its cold climate.

Keynote speaker on Dec. 8 (9 – 10:30 a.m.): Sheila Watt-Cloutier is a Nobel Peace Prize nominee, climate change and human rights advocate, TEDx speaker, author, former Canadian President and International Chair of the Inuit Circumpolar Council. Sheila speaks with passion and urgency on the issues of today — the environment, the economy, foreign policy, global health and sustainability — not as separate concerns, but as a deeply interconnected whole.

Kehkashan Basu, founder of the Green Hope Foundation, says the transition to renewables creates opportunities to provide electricity to countries and communities that are not well served by existing utilities and grids. “It’s just kind of logical to use clean energy as a tool to help empower them instead of going the usual route of fossil-fuel powered electricity,” she says. “In this way, we’re leaving no one behind and we are creating a positive impact on the planet.

Keynote speaker on Dec. 10 (9:30 – 10:30 a.m.): Kehkashan Basu, global influencer, educator, environmentalist, champion of women and children’s rights, TEDx speaker, Climate Reality Mentor, author, musician, peace and sustainability campaigner. Kehkashan is the
Founder-President of global social innovation enterprise Green Hope Foundation, which works at a grassroots level in 26 countries, empowering over 400,000 young people and women in the sustainable development process through education.

Throughout the week, students and staff are encouraged to share what they are learning on social media with the hashtag: #EnvironmentalRightsHDSB.

“The Human Rights Symposium supports the Board’s Environmental Leadership and Indigenous Perspectives and Awareness work, two key areas of focus in the HDSB Multi-Year Strategic Plan 2020-2024 and our Human Rights Equity Action & Accountability Plan: The Way Forward,” says Curtis
Ennis, Director of Education for the HDSB. “The important work underway at the annual Human Rights Symposium serves as a reminder of the value of bringing students, staff and community partners together to address common issues.”

“The HDSB is proud to celebrate and recognize Environmental Rights at the Human Rights Symposium,” says Margo Shuttleworth, Chair of the HDSB. “The Trustees are honoured and excited to encourage you to engage, question and reflect on conversations surrounding environmental rights. Through proactive engagement in vital conversations, we are able to challenge traditional thinking and engage in focused learning about environmental rights and sustainability.”

“Environmental Rights and protection is our collective responsibility,” says Jennie Petko, Superintendent of Education with responsibility for Human Rights, Equity, Inclusive Education and Indigenous Rights. “This year’s Human Rights Symposium provides an opportunity for our HDSB community to discuss issues related to environmental preservation, Indigenous Rights and the interconnectedness of our planet.”

“We recognize the importance of participating in vital discussions to challenge our thinking. The Human Rights Symposium provides an opportunity for educators and students to come together to examine important issues and drive actionable change.”

Trent University students on an environmental field trip

The HDSB Human Rights Symposium (Dec. 8-9, 2022) aligns with Human Rights Day on Dec. 10, which is observed annually to recognize the day on which the United Nations General Assembly adopted the Universal Declaration of Human Rights in 1948. The principles originally enshrined in the Declaration are still relevant today.
If you want to follow up on this event reach out to the Board at symposium@hdsb.ca.

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Wards 2 and 5 (Kearns and Sharman) were givens - both need to improve their performances. The ward 4 vote (Stolte) was in doubt that was overcome

By Pepper Parr

October 31st, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The election in wards 2, 4 and 5 were somewhat different than they were in 1, 3 and 6 – where there was thought to be a turnover.

Turned out that not one of them turned over – the incumbents got back with solid pluralities.

In wards 2 and five there was little doubt that the incumbent would hold the seat.

Lisa Kearns, Councillor for ward 2. Don’t ask what she is handing out. One of the photo ops – that’s all you need to know.

Despite Lisa Kearns’ “inadvertent” blurting out of information that was seen as highly confidential she did very well. Paul Sharman was never in doubt – he should have been acclaimed and saved everyone the bother.

The candidates that ran against him were poorly organized and didn’t manage to get any traction.

Ward 4 was a different situation. The incumbent was at risk but the polling numbers show that the three candidates did not catch any of the public imagination in the ward.

Stolte is back as the ward Councillor. The dynamics of future council meetings will be different. The shameful behaviour on the part of the Mayor and the way the rest of Council lost their tongues is not something that is going to be forgotten.

This last year of their term of office for the outgoing council was nothing to be proud of. There were failures at several levels on the administrative side – this is just not the way a civilized city council operates.

The little bit that has been heard about what might have changed is not encouraging.

The Gazette has said all it has to say about Stolte and the Integrity issues. The degree to which is impacted the opinion of those who voted.

The 73% of the voters that decided not to bother voting is not healthy; the result is they now have a council they may not have wanted once they see what things look like in a year.

Mayor Meed Ward with what is probably the last diesel bus the city will take delivery of – the future is not known yet – electrical or hydrogen?

There will be a lot of bad news, some expensive news. It is going to take a council that works as a team to get through the changes the provincial government threw at them the day after the election. It is going to take a lot of faith when the public learns how big an increase they are going to have to bear.

Transit faces some major issues. Diesel is out; is it going to be electric or hydrogen.

All the public has heard from the Mayor is that she wants to work a deal with Hamilton over the LaSalle Park property. Just extend the lease and wait for a better day to resolve an issue that isn’t going to make as much as a pinch of difference to anyone in the city.

Dealing with an Ontario Land Tribunal that is going to be given a different set of rules – none appear to offer any benefit to the municipal sector.

The beating the Conservation Authorities are taking is troubling. Does Burlington face the risk of seeing the urban boundary moved north of Hwy 5 (Dundas) and the 407?

The 25 year Strategic Plan is due for an update as well

There was never any doubt that Lisa Kearns was going to be returned. The question is – will it be a new and improved Lisa or the same old.

The vote that Shawna Stolte had held. Olivia Duke could have done much better, perhaps run, if she had started more than a year ago. Why Burlington is made up of people who think they can put together a campaign six months before an election and win defies understanding. What is going to be carefully watched is how the relationship between the Mayor and Stolte works out.

How do you explain the results: The candidates didn’t stand a chance. Sharman can be beaten by not by last minute candidates who put up a poor campaign with no team in place.

Related new story
What were the numbers like at the Mayoralty level

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The Grebenc Position: The Case to Elevate Public Transit to the Regional Level in Halton

By Andrea Grebenc

September 27th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

People are moving to Halton Region and expect interconnected communities. Candidate for Regional Chair Andrea Grebenc set out her position on local transit: It is long-past time for a regional public transportation model in Halton.

Burlington, Milton and Oakville each have their own public transportation system. Halton Hills public transportation does not exist. Halton is an increasingly integrated community. Residents don’t live, work and have fun only around home. They visit and commute to other parts of the region and beyond. As I’ve talked to people while canvassing on my journey to the Regional Chair role, I have noted that many people are asking for better transit. Halton is a growing region and many people are moving in from places outside Halton that have effective transit. They move to Halton and are disappointed to find that to effectively move around the region, a car is necessary. This contributes to growing gridlock and increases our carbon footprint. Living in Burlington and working in Milton(or vice versa) requires hours of convoluted public transportation commuting and involves leaving the region entirely within the journey. This is not attractive or effective.

Because of this growing interdependence of transportation between Halton communities public transportation should be uploaded to the Regional level.

Burlington Transit getting new buses

Integrated public transportation planning and interconnection not only within the Region, but between adjacent regions could make commuting a seamless endeavour across the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area, freeing up time and improving quality of life. This makes good economic sense for people as commuters, and for businesses looking to expand into and within Halton. This is an especially attractive concept for people and businesses who are considering how to reduce their carbon footprint and increase environmental stewardship. Some business organizations may even decide to subsidize or purchase public transportation passes for employees as a benefit to demonstrate action on environmental concerns and a way to attract employees.

Many regions in the province have moved to a regional transportation system. Let’s look for best practices on how to implement this in Halton.

York Region is probably the most advanced transit system in the province -fully integrated

Along with public transit, active transit integration across the region should be strengthened. People are looking more and more at the climate and health benefits of this mode of transportation. We need to look at providing safe ways to make this happen.

The Regional Council unanimously approved a motion to declare a climate emergency in 2019 and strong improvements to public and active transportation would align with that position.

The municipalities within Halton have grown and matured, and the province has mandated that this growth continue. Services like police, public health, wastewater, water purification are already part of the Region’s mandate. Similarly, it makes sense for the Region to have a bigger role in providing public transit across the Region.

Andrea Grebenc: candidate for Halton Regional Chair

Andrea Grebenc is a registered candidate for Halton’s Regional Chair position in the upcoming municipal election and her name will appear on all ballots in Burlington, Halton Hills, Milton and Oakville. For more information about her experience, background, and platform, visit Andrea4Halton.ca.

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Lawson Hunter ask Council not to become a 'lame duck' and have the report get lost in the transition to a new term

By Lawson Hunter

July 7th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

Lawson Hunter delegated at a Standing Committee earlier today to comment in support of “Climate Resilient Burlington: A Plan for Adopting to Our Warmer, Wetter, and Wilder Weather”. He said:

To my mind, this is one of the best reports I have seen this Council receive this term. I have every confidence that this committee will accept this report. My hope is that you will embrace the messages contained within and set in motion the recommendations with the urgency and the full commitment that they require.

Unfortunately, this report comes at a time when Council is near the end of its term, a ‘near lame duck Council’. Please do what you can to see that this report does not get lost in the transition to a new term and more importantly, that the City implements many, if not all, of the plans of action.

Lawson Hunter: “we easily forget, especially if it doesn’t affect us directly.”

I have delegated to Council on more than one occasion about Mitigating Climate Change. Today, I’m here to say that I’ve turned a corner in my thinking. I still believe in Mitigation but my personal viewpoint is that we need to shift more towards Adaptation.

In 2019, Burlington City Council, along with many other municipalities in Canada, declared a “Climate Emergency”. At the time, the International Panel on Climate Change stated that we had 12 years to ‘mitigate’ climate change. Well, we’ve got 9 years left before we pass the point of no return. Nine years to keep global GHG emissions below 350 parts per million. Sorry to tell you, but we passed 410 ppm a mere four months later. The IPCC (which the report references) told us that we needed to limit average temperature level increases to 1.5 degrees Celsius. We’ve blown past that. We now talk about 2 degrees, or even 3 or 4 degrees by the end of the century.

The dilemma, we face is our brains protect us by pushing those events from the past further and further out of our minds as we tend to focus on our day to day activities. ‘Live in the moment’ our coaches, and trainers, and self-help gurus tell us. Well, we can’t do that anymore. Not when those “climate events” keep coming, more frequently and harder and closer to home.

Sure, Burlington experienced the Ice Storm of 2013 and the Flood of 2014. A year ago, we watched on TV the drought and fire and flood that hit B.C. And in May of this year, less than two months ago, we narrowly missed the Great Canadian Derecho that tore a path of destruction from Windsor to Quebec City. A derecho is when a thunderstorm marries a tornado and creates a hurricane on land.

We, as a global society, recovered from the long list of environmental crises but did we learn anything from them? In her book, “The Devil Never Sleeps: Learning to Live in an Age of Disasters”, Juliette Kayyem says, for the most part we did. She writes, “It isn’t that you can manage a disaster so that no harm will occur, … Essentially, we can learn to fail, more safely.”

My point is, we easily forget, especially if it doesn’t affect us directly. And even if we are affected we, “Pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, start all over again” as the song says. We take pride in Building Back Better. In a word we become ‘Resilient’.

And that brings me to my one, small uneasiness about this report. Words are important. They can spur us into action or they can lull us into complacency.

For example, in this report the word Resilience is used quite often in place of Adaptation. Resilience is described as “the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties”, or “the ability to cope with and recover from setbacks”, or, “to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune”.

The impact of the 2014 flood on a Burlington basement

Climate Change is neither a difficulty, a setback or a misfortune. It’s a disaster waiting to happen. It’s not a ‘what-if’ scenario. It’s a when-it-will-strike, there will be consequences kind of thing.

The report talks a lot about ‘collaboration’ as if that were a new thing. One has to hope that the City already ‘collaborates’ with entities like Burlington Hydro, Enbridge, the RBG and other stakeholders. I respect that stakeholders were invited to the table, but the collaboration must go further than a dozen or so meetings. It must infuse the landscape. Every organization, every company, every developer, every resident, should ask themselves “Is this the best we can do to respond to a climate change event?” And, “what part can I play after a disaster has impacted my neighbours?” rather than let ‘the City’ clean up the mess.

We are fighting against a system that none of us created. A system of global off-shoring, over consumption, externalities, short-term thinking, a ‘make it-break it-toss it’ society that is leading us over a cliff. Burlington used to be, largely, self-sufficient. Broken global supply chains have shown us that that is not sustainable anymore.

I get it. Your e-mail boxes are over-flowing with residents’ complaints about garbage, about potholes, about not enough ice rinks in the city. But you know what? Those fall into the category of the short-term thinking that got us here.

We, all of us, need to have the courage to say, “Stop it for a moment.” We need to shift our focus to ‘What will the impact of our decisions today, have on future generations?”. I’ve already spoken to Council about thinking, not in 20 years, or 50 years, but using the Indigenous wisdom of ‘seven generations’. In seven generations, 200 years or so, hurricanes, drought, floods, war, famine, will all probably hit Burlington. What will we construct today that will help future generations to Adapt?

We need to commit to the recommendations in this report. We need to set priorities. We need to ensure success by directing enough of the City’s budget now and into the future towards these goals. Let me tell you, it’s going to hurt, but future generations will thank us.

We also need to acknowledge the things that we’ve done wrong, but also what we did right to respond to disasters. We can adapt to a rapidly changing environment. COVID taught us that. Will we heed that lesson?

Biologically speaking, adaptation is “a change or the process of change by which an organism, or species becomes better suited to its environment”. Not us trying to change the environment to suit our needs.

We are heading down the train track and no one’s got their hands on the brake. Here’s an example. And it is in no way a slam against Burlington Hydro. Burlington has experienced 33 power outages since January 1 of this year.

The 2013 ice storm blocked roads for days

My question is – is sixty plus outages acceptable when every house and building could have its own renewable energy source? Is 60 plus outages the new normal that we should expect? Again, I’m not blaming Burlington Hydro – it has to deal with flooding, wind storms, ice build up, drivers knocking down poles, and a few instances of preventative maintenance by the utility. Burlington Hydro is working with a system that was designed in the 1950’s, built in the 60’s and 70’s, and feeding power from a transmission system that was created some 100 years ago. Doomed to fail.

But see, there I go talking about a Mitigation to the climate change problem. It’s difficult to separate the two. We need both courses of Action. I’m here to ask you to take the next 15 or 20 minutes and really concentrate on what this city – not City (with a capital C), but the community of Burlington can do to prepare to ‘fail more safely’ because we will fail when it comes to climate change, it’s almost guaranteed.

I’m not an expert. You’ve got plenty of smart people on staff. You’ve already got a shelf full of reports, and you’ve got partnerships with good organizations with all kinds of environmental experience. What I want to impress upon you is the sense of urgency that I feel.

I don’t want Burlington to just ‘Build Back Better’. We can ‘hope for the best and prepare for the worst’ or we can prepare for the worst and hope that it never comes to that.

Take-aways:

• Don’t be lulled into complacency with aspirations and buzzwords.
• Give all City staff adequate training in first aid and disaster relief.
• Empower employees to assist and support the rest of the community, be it disaster, physical condition, mental health situation, knowing what to do and where to go in an emergency.
• Create more heating and cooling stations, and emergency shelters.
• Make floodplain maps easily accessible and support Conservation Halton’s program and frequency of new maps created.
• Instill a long-term vision in City staff, residents, local employees that we need to work together, support each other, for the common good.
• Work with developers, the largest group of game-changers, to build better, more equitably, and with robust safety features – additional stair egress, adequate fire protection and services.
• Recognize that disaster could happen at any time, in any location, and know how to respond.
• Learn to fail, more safely.

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Impact of COVID19 on 131,624 Halton caregivers: what were the lessons learned? Not very many

By Staff

May 9th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

Part 2: Caregivers.

This Community Lens, the second in a two-part series on caregiving, will draw from the findings of a 2021 survey on the impacts of COVID-19 on caregivers.

The survey was carried out by the Ontario Caregiver Organization (OCO) deep into the second year of the pandemic, between September 24th and October 12th, 2021.

Released in November 2021, entitled, ‘Spotlight Report, The Impact of COVID-19 on Caregivers: Year Two’ , it is the second pandemic caregiver survey undertaken by the organization. Its first pandemic survey, ‘Spotlight on Ontario’s Caregivers COVID-19 Edition’, was released in December 2020.

Former Burlington MPP Eleanor McMahon speaking with seniors at a meeting in the Library.

The OCO defines caregivers as “ordinary people who provide physical and/or emotional support to a family member, partner, friend, or neighbour”. Funded by the Government of Ontario, the OCO is a nonprofit that was created in 2018 “to support Ontario’s estimated 3.3 million caregivers”.

In publishing this Community Lens, CDH intends to raise awareness of the experiences of caregivers, in our view, an increasingly important, but often overlooked, area of life for many people and families across Halton.

COVID-19 Impacts on Caregivers
Since the OCO’s first pandemic survey in December 2020, the findings from the 2021 survey indicate that many of the negative and difficult personal caregiver experiences deteriorated further. There were 801 “self-reported caregivers” aged 16 years and older who participated in the online survey between September 24 and October 12, 2021. As part of its research, the OCO also conducted a series of ten in- depth interviews alongside the online survey.

In the second year of the pandemic, caregivers reported increases in “feeling tired, anxious, overwhelmed, trapped, frustrated and unappreciated”. In fact, according to the 2021 survey findings, caregiver burnout was at record high levels.

While one in three caregivers in the 2021 survey reported that they had “no one to ask for help” if they needed a rest or if they became sick.

The climate of heightened anxiety around COVID-19 transmission, among other factors, impacted caregivers and care recipients, with 56% of caregivers reported worrying about “managing care recipient’s anxiety due to Covid-19”.
COVID-19 caused significant service and care support disruptions, which would have been felt disproportionately by caregivers who were already overstretched, such as those with smaller family and friend networks.

Mary Alice St. James talking to seniors during an election campaign.

The increased pressure on the healthcare system during the pandemic impacted 75% of caregivers who were required to take on “responsibilities that would otherwise go to a personal support worker or nurse”. Overall, caregivers reported that more time was spent caregiving during the pandemic, “61% say the hours they spend providing care has increased”. According to the 2021 survey, almost one in five carers (18%) were “caring for more than one person”. The pandemic not only created additional complexity for that group, but for many caregivers, 59% of whom said their responsibilities were more difficult in 2021 “than before the pandemic”.

The top three reasons that caregivers gave were:

“Being at home all the time, the care recipient is unable to get important social interaction (38%) Difficulty accessing the doctors and/or other healthcare professionals (36%)

Delayed/cancelled appointments require more time and effort in rescheduling (33%)”.

Enhanced health and safety protocols in hospitals and long-term care facilities, introduced to keep the most vulnerable safe from COVID-19 transmission, were nonetheless difficult experiences for many caregivers and recipients, particularly those that were already isolated and lonely pre-pandemic. Due to enhanced COVID-19 health and safety rules, “26% [of caregivers in the 2021 survey] had to send the care recipient to the hospital alone”.

Canadian caregivers also reported worse personal pandemic impacts than their global counterparts. A survey by Embracing Carers, released in 2021, found that, “70% of Canadian carers say that the pandemic has worsened their emotional/mental health, compared to 61% of the 12-country average” and “61% of Canadian carers say that the pandemic has worsened their physical health, compared to 46% of the 12- country average”.

Burlington has a very strong network of seniors who have clout that spreads throughout the Region of Halton. This crowd was focused on transit while the MP, Karina Gould and then ward 2 Councillor, now Mayor Burlington, Marianne Meed Ward look on.

Post-Covid Financial Pressures: Rising Living Costs to Impact Caregivers
Financial hardship exists among caregivers, just as it is experienced by individuals and families across our communities. The OCO 2021 survey reported that, “20% of caregivers took out a loan or a line of credit to help pay for the expense [of caregiving], up from 17%” in the 2020 survey. 9 It found that 45% “experienced financial hardships [in 2021], compared to 41% in 2020”, an increase of 4% during the two pandemic surveys. Perhaps a more concerning trend was that the 45% of caregivers experiencing financial hardship in 2021 was up 13% (from 32% in 2019). Moreover, the 2021 level of self-reported financial hardship (45%) is more than double the 22% reported in the 2018 survey.

The current rise in living costs being witnessed across the country will only serve to increase the financial hardship of many caregivers. In “January 2022, Canadian inflation surpassed 5% for the first time since September 1991”. 10 In February 2022, national average prices climbed further. Canada’s inflation level for February 2022 sat at 5.7% (12-month average, compared with February 2021).

Staple food items are increasing faster than the 5.7% inflation level. In February 2022 (compared with February 2021), fresh or frozen beef prices were up 16.8%, chicken was up 10.4%, and “dairy products and eggs were up 6.9%”.  These macro economic price trends support the personal reflections of caregivers in the OCO 2021 survey: 47% of whom said that “there have been more costs related to providing care” during COVID-19.

Councillor Sharman has held two public sessions with Senior’s as part of his effort to understand their needs and develop policy that Council can put in place to serve this vital community.

Caregivers fortunate enough to have access to a motor vehicle are experiencing much higher price increases than the 5.7% inflation level. In February 2022, Canadians “paid 32.3% more at the pump compared with February 2021”. 14 Such fuel price increases are likely to put caregivers under increasing financial pressure, disproportionality impacting more rural and isolated caregivers and those with inadequate access to public transport. The associated tasks around providing caregiver support, some of which are heavily reliant on transport, such as attending doctors’ appointments, prescription runs, buying medical and care supplies, are now more expensive post-Covid.

Conclusion
This Community Lens showed that the negative experiences of caregiving during COVID-19 were exacerbated by a pandemic that affected service provisions, contributed to increased anxiety and burnout, impeded crucial social interactions, and increased financial pressures on caregivers.

Unfortunately, the post-COVID economic climate is unlikely to offer much respite for struggling caregivers in the months ahead. Gas and essential food item prices are fast outpacing Canada’s 31-year inflation high of 5.7%, which was announced for February 2022. 15 These post-COVID price increases, caused in part by higher “input prices and heightened transportation costs,” come on top of already increased costs that were associated with caregiving, as reported in the 2021 OCO survey.

If there is to be a positive takeaway from the pandemic it may be, as the CEO and board chair of the OCO put it in their opening remarks to the 2021 survey, “the expanded understanding of what caregivers do and why they are essential partners in care”. We hope this Community Lens series has contributed, in a small way, to this understanding, and helps shine a light on the role that an “estimated 131,624 Halton caregivers” play in supporting families, friends, and the wider healthcare and social system.

Further Resources for Caregivers
If you are a caregiver, or know someone who is, and would like further information around resources and support, we recommend visiting the Ontario Caregiver Organization website:    https://ontariocaregiver.ca

As always, if you have any feedback about this Community Lens or about any of our other social policy and planning work, please reach out to data@cdhalton.ca

Community Lens is prepared by Community Development Halton to disseminate and interpret important community data as it becomes available. For more information please contact us at data@cdhalton.ca or 905-632-1975

Community Development Halton 3350 South Service Road
Burlington, ON L7N 3M6
905-632-1975 www.cdhalton.ca

Caregivers:  Part 1

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Communications department: a filter that controls media access to senior staff

By Pepper Parr

April 28th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

OPINION

Part 2 of a series

In the news game reporters have what they call sources.

They are frequently people working in a city hall department or someone in the private sector who can explain a complex document, process or procedure.

Mutual in trust is usually in place.

Each year during budget time calls would get made to the people working on different parts of a budget – a list of the reserves was always an issue.

The amount of money that was budgeted in a year but didn’t get spent often got placed in reserve budget which was often referred to the piggy bank and used by council members for favourite projects.

More often than not there were follow up questions to the experts; with both people on the line a clearer understanding of what are often complex issues is gained.

One of the more challenging was Development Charges – a contentious category for everyone.

Up until very recently Burlington was recovering less than 70% of what they spent handling development application work. It took a couple of expensive reports from consultants, and in the most recent set of discussion, long meetings with BILD (Building Industry and Land Development Association) and the West End Home Builders Association before a final figure was arrived at.

Development charges are very difficult to explain and at the same time a very significant part of the cost of buying a house that is under construction. Those development charges are all added to the cost of the residence.

Not something the average person fully understands.

Reporters have to wade through thick documents, try to understand the contents and the follow up with staff members.

That kind of thing is done at every newspaper, on line or print, in the country.

But that is not the way it works in Burlington.

Former City Manager James Ridge – fairly described as media adverse

The change began during the last years of the former City Manager James Ridge administration.  What started in about 2016 is maintained by the current City Manager Tim Commisso.

Donna Kell was the communications coordinator at the time. Kwab Ako-Adjei was hired by Ridge and the game slowly changed.

Ako-AdjeiKwab gave Kell the chance to develop her career somewhere else

In a mature, professional organization Ako-Adjei would have reached out to the media and made a point of meeting the player’s and talked about how the two (media and administration) could best do their jobs. Access is the most important thing for media.

I first met Ako-Adjei at an event at the Waterfront Hotel – chatted for less than a minute; I was able to have a longer conversation several months later.

What we began to experience with Ako-Adjei and his staff was when we made a call to a staff member they would either tell us we had to call the communications department or if we reached out by email we would get a reply from one of the communications people who would ask what our questions was – they go away and come back with an answer.

None of the people who serve as communications staff have formal training in journalism or any work experience in journalism.

Most of them have a designation as a public relations specialist.

Public relations is in place to do everything possible to get out the story a corporation wants to get out and where there is a kaflooey, limit the damage and say as little as possible.

I want to share our most recent experience with access. It goes like this.

Sue Connor is the Director of Transit. She came to Burlington with an incredible reputation. The city was lucky to get her.  She is seen and respected as a strong voice on the conversion of transit out of diesel into batteries or H20.

She takes part in the proceedings of CUTRIC (Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium) a solution based consulting company; leaders in the field.

We reached out to Sue asking if we could talk about the views she would be taking to the CUTRIC (Canadian Urban Transit Research & Innovation Consortium) conference which was taking place about a week or so later.

Sue Connor – An Executive Director and Director of Transit for Burlington.

Our interest was in Sue Connor as a respected leader in the move from diesel to a less climate damaging source of energy.  She is a solid manager who runs one of the happiest, nicest places in the city to work

We got a call from the city communications people who asked what we wanted to ask Conner.

We explained that the event was not a city event and that Connor was attending the conference as an individual and not someone representing Burlington Transit.

Conner had advised the City Manager earlier in the month that she would retire at the end of the year. Shortly after that announcement Connor was elevated to the position of Executive Director filling the gap that was created when Heather MacDonald retired.

The end result was there was no interview with Sue Connor – which is unfortunate – she is one of the best on the ground thinkers in the transit business in the country and also ran one of the best operated departments in the city.

Policy and practice related to media come straight from the City Manager. While Ako-Adjei, has his finger prints all over every bit of information that comes out of city hall; he reports directly to Commisso.

Kwab Ako-Adjei

Kwab Ako-Adjei is leading an initiative known as One Burlington – it is there to polish the brand.

This is not a healthy situation and has to a considerable degree lessened the amount of information that gets through to the public

We are not the only people struggling with the communications department – several members of the very divided city Council have similar issues.

There is a link, not too difficult to find, between the messy Integrity Commissioners report that was really all about citizen access to information and the control everything communications department.

The root of all this is the office of the City Manager.

The City Manager gets his marching orders from City Council and this council is not going to lift a finger to bring about a change in the way city hall works with media

There are options that I will talk about in the future.

Part 1 of the series

The above are the opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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The Public now knows what the city's legal department wanted kept within a CLOSED session of Council

By Staff

March 28th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

A number of Council members have been unhappy and somewhat disturbed over the way information was kept from the public by having the debate take place in a CLOSED session of Council.

When a CLOSED session of Council was about to take place – a notice would be read out saying what they (Council) needed to go into CLOSED for and then the web cast went dark displaying just GET THE VISUAL. When Council came out of a CLOSED session they would report that Council has agreed to do what was agreed upon in the CLOSED meeting.

Once council member complained publicly that “we can’t even tell the public the address of the property that was being discussed.  The struggle to determine what could and should be released was between Council and Nancy Shea Nicol, the City Solicitor.

Last week for the first time we saw a situation where Council talked about going into CLOSED but decided not to.  The City Solicitor said she would provide a report on what the issue was with all the details.

 

Some context:

The site was zoned MXT and as such the development application being made complied with the zoning by law and would go directly to site plan approval, Development Application proceeds straight to site plan.

In contrast when a zoning bylaw amendment is requested the proponent will go through community meetings, a Statutory Public meeting and receive a planning recommendation  report for council to  vote on.

None of these steps are required for applications that are in compliance with the regulations of the bylaw, as is the case with these lands.

What Councillor Kearns was able to do was undelegate the application which meant site plan approval would be determined by Council and not staff.

The developer chose to take their application to the Ontario Land Tribunal.  While waiting for a hearing date the city and the developer were able to come to terms on the differences and entered into a Settlement Agreement which will now be heard by the Ontario Land Tribunal on GET THE DATE.

There is a bigger question: When the city learned that intensification was going to be focused on what were originally called mobility hubs – later changed to MTSA Major Transit Service Areas  – why didn’t the Planning department look at the zoning status of all the lands around the MTSA and do what needed to be done to change the zoning.

The following is what the City Solicitor released.

On April 4, 2020 the Community Planning Department acknowledged that a site plan application had been received by Brookfield Properties, Inter Rent REIT and CLV Group Inc. (the “Applicant”) for Site Plan Approval for 2269, 2243 Fairview Street & 864 Drury Lane (the “Site”) to support the development of the Site with seven (7) residential towers on top of four (4) mixed-use podiums, with overall tower heights ranging between 29 and 37 storeys. However, the Site was located within an area that was the subject of an Interim Control By-law and related study, resulting in a development ‘freeze’ on lands within the study area.

The Official Plan Amendment (“OPA 119”) and Zoning By-law Amendment (“ZBA 2020.418”) that resulted from the recommendations of the ICBL study were appealed, including by the Applicant, in February 2020. These appeals to ZBA 2020.418 had the effect of continuing the development ‘freeze’ on the Site, and resulted in no decision being made on the site plan.

On August 11, 2021, the Applicant appealed the site plan application to the Ontario Lands Tribunal based upon non-decision of the City within the required time period set out by the Planning Act.

On December 17, 2021 the Applicant submitted a Settlement Offer to the City for consideration. The Applicant is seeking a settlement of its appeals of OPA 119, ZBA 2020.418 and its site plan application. The Settlement Offer proposes a resolution of the appeals in which the Applicant would withdraw its appeal of OPA 119 and the City and the Applicant would seek approval from the Ontario Land Tribunal (“OLT”) for site-specific amendments to ZBA 2020.418 to permit the development contemplated in phase 1 of a phased site plan. These site-specific amendments would add to the regulations contained within ZBA 2020.418 to regulate the development proposed in phase 1 of the site plan, as described below. The City and Applicant would also seek an Order from the OLT removing the Site from the ongoing development ‘freeze’ that applies to this area. The Settlement Offer proposes to resolve the site plan appeal by the City and the Applicant seeking approval from the OLT for site plan contemplating development of phase 1 of a multi-tower residential development on the Site. Future phases of the development of the Site would require Site Plan Approval from the City. Additionally, the Settlement Offer contemplates the City and the Applicant agreeing to certain parameters that would not only apply to Phase 1 of the development set out in detail in the Settlement Offer, but also to the future development of phase 2 that would be subject to a future site plan approval process by the City. Key parameters of the proposed site plan appeal settlement include:

Phases 1 and 2 will each contain two towers of 33 and 37 stories (Phase 1) and 33 and 35 stories (Phase 2) in height;

The four towers proposed in Phases 1 and 2 will all be purpose-built rental buildings, with 100% of units in the buildings being in rental tenure;

Phase 1 will provide a total of 38 three (3) bedroom residential rental units, including 25 three (3) bedroom rental units contained within the two towers;

When the Applicant seeks site plan approval for Phase 2, the towers will include at least 25 three (3) bedroom residential rental units;

Provide a minimum 30m separation between proposed towers;

The tower floor plates of the four towers in Phases 1 and 2 will have tower floor plates of up to 890 square metres;

The Applicant will dedicate 1.71ha of parkland, in addition to providing cash-in-lieu of parkland in the amount of approximately $13 million. Additionally, the Applicant will provide a privately-owned publicly accessible space (‘POPS’), maintained in perpetuity at its expense, of 0.25ha located immediately adjacent to the dedicated parkland located along Fairview Street to function as one cohesive park that may be further expanded should lands to the west of the Site re-develop in the future.

Phases 1 and 2 of the Site Plan (containing two levels of underground parking will address groundwater through a private permanent pumping stormwater management system discharged into the City’s storm sewer system at regulated volumes and quality, with ongoing stormwater management system maintenance requirements registered on the title of the rental buildings. Future phase(s) of development on the Site will have separate underground facilities and stormwater management for those phases will be reviewed by the City in future applications for site plan approval.

The Applicant will make a Municipal Consent application to bring permanent buried hydro to the entire site (Phases 1, 2 and 3). Should the applicant wish to install additional temporary overhead hydro, those drawings and details will be included with the Municipal Consent application, along with required fees and securities.

Height of the site relative to other major developments in the city

GET THE GRAPHIC OF THE SITE
Site Description and Surrounding Land Uses

 The subject site has an area of 3.4 ha, and approximately 224 m of frontage along Fairview, and 143 m of frontage along Drury Lane. Access to the site is currently provided via both Drury Lane and Fairview Street. A vacant garden centre, brewery, auto repair shop, dance studio and furniture store are currently located on the Subject Lands. It is the intent that the existing buildings and structures be demolished prior to the site being redeveloped.

Surrounding the subject site are the following uses:

North: The Lakeshore West GO rail line is located adjacent to the Subject Lands directly to the north. A low-rise residential neighbourhood occupies the lands north of the rail line. An overpass pedestrian bridge at the north terminus of Drury Lane provides access over the rail line to the residential community to the north.

South: Fairview Street, low rise institutional and medical building consisting of the Halton Catholic District School Board and a medical clinic.

East: Drury Lane, and a number of low-rise service commercial and retail uses are located east of the Subject Lands, including an automotive repair and home store.

West: A car dealership is located adjacent to the Subject Lands directly west, followed by a creek and the Burlington GO Station. The Paradigm Condominium development, (5 tower and 24 storey residential condominium development) is located immediately west of the Burlington GO Station.

 

The Site Plan Application:

The Site Plan application that is the subject of the appeal includes 4 buildings with a total of 7 towers ranging in height from 29 to 37 storeys. The comprehensive development plan will provide 2,515 residential units of mixed type and tenure; 3,703 square metres of retail/ commercial space; there will be shared amenity space between all buildings in a variety of forms, including indoor, rooftop and outdoor elevated amenity area; all proposed parking to be located within a combination of a 4-storey above-ground parking structure abutting the northern lot line or within 5 levels of underground parking abutting the southern property line. Each building is proposed as follows:

Building A will consist of a six storey podium and a 33 storey tower with 338 residential units.

Building B will consist of a five storey podium and two towers with 651 residential units. Tower B1 will be 29 storeys and tower B2 will be 34 storeys. Ten (10) Townhouse style units are incorporated into the podium fronting onto Fairview Street.

Building C will consist of a four storey podium and two towers with 774 residential rental units. Tower C1 will be 33 storeys and tower C2 will be 37 storeys.

Building D will consist of a four storey podium and two towers with 752 residential rental units. Tower D1 will be 33 storeys and tower C2 will be 35 storeys.

Vehicular access to the proposed development will be provided primarily through an internal driveway through the site from Fairview Street to Drury Lane, similar to the driveway that presently exists on the Subject Lands. The parking structure will be accessed via Drury Lane and the internal east-west driveway, which will function as a private street. Access to the underground parking will also be provided through the internal driveway. A minimal amount of layby parking is proposed at grade. Parking is proposed as 1-5 levels of underground parking and 4 levels of parking in a structure at the rear of the site. In terms of parking rates, there are 2761 spaces for 2515 units (including visitor), 154 spaces for commercial and 34 spaces for maintenance. The total parking rate is 1.16 spaces per unit.

The Site Plan in the Proposed Settlement

The Proposed Settlement contemplates a phased approach to the development of the Site, with site plan approval for phase 1 by the OLT, and subsequent phases of the development of the site to occur through future applications for site plan approval by the City. Phase 1 will consist of a four-storey podium and two towers with 774 residential rental units. Tower C1 will be 33 storeys and tower C2 will be 37 storeys. Phase 1 also includes the internal (private) east-west road and a public park. The OLT’s approval of the Site Plan for phase 1 of the development would include conditions of Site Plan Approval that would apply to Phase 1, which consists of buildings C1 and C2 on the Site Plan. As noted above, the parameters of the settlement (such as height and floor plate size) would apply to Phase 2 (Buildings D1 and D2 on the proposed plan); however, a new Site Plan Application to the City would be required to be approved by the City, subject to conditions. Phase 3 on the Site Plan, which includes Buildings A and B to the south fronting onto Fairview Street remains independent from the settlement and will require separate review and subject to that review, may or may not be approved by the City in its current form.

 

 

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Creating an Electric Mobility Strategy - your part is to let the city know what you think

By Staff

March 23rd, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

BurlingtonGreen is working with the City of Burlington to complete an Electric Mobility Strategy to develop a ‘made in Burlington’ pathway to increase the local adoption of electric cars, bikes and scooters and their associated infrastructure.

“Low carbon transportation is key to achieving Burlington’s net carbon neutral target by 2050. Electric mobility is an opportunity for the community to address climate change through personal choices.

All season cycling – a bit of a stretch for a Canadian city.

Understanding the barriers and opportunities to higher EV uptake in the community is the first step to developing the strategy”, says Program Manager Marwa Selim.

Transportation is the largest source of greenhouse gas emissions in Burlington and thus prioritising walking, cycling, transit and e-mobility as the preferred modes of travel for residents will be essential in helping to advance the objectives and goals of Burlington’s Climate Action Plan.

The City’s Get Involved Burlington online engagement portal is currently hosting 3 surveys inviting community input on electric vehicles, e-scooters, and e-bikes, remaining open until March 30th, 2022. You can find and complete the surveys here.

Some E-mobility Did you Know? Facts:

Lynn Robichaud, Manager of Environmental Sustainability, City of Burlington

● The City has installed 27 electric vehicle ports on city property with more in the planning stage.
● Charging is free at the publicly available stations, however, a parking fee may apply depending on the lot and time of day.
● The City is planning for the installation of a level 3 or fast charger in the downtown core later this year.
● Research has shown that people who ride e-bikes tend to ride further and more frequently.

Lynn Robichaud, Manager of Environmental Sustainability, City of Burlington said: I’m excited to see the results of the surveys to hear from residents and understand the opportunities and barriers as we develop the Electric Mobility Strategy and work towards
being a net carbon neutral community.

 

Established in 2007, BurlingtonGreen is a community-based, non-partisan environmental charity. Through awareness, advocacy, and action we collaborate with all sectors of the community to protect the natural environment, mitigate climate change and to help make Burlington a cleaner, greener, more environmentally responsible city.

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