April 2011 Progress Report

With the completion of the budget cycle we were able to move into a number of other areas of focus in April.

Pier: The City continues to work towards completion of the Pier. Staff is working with a new engineering company to complete an updated Tender Bid document which we expect to approve in the early summer.

As was noted in the press, we did receive an unsolicited proposal from the bonding company. This was somewhat expected. Under the terms of the performance bond, the bonding company may take steps to complete the project in accordance with the terms and conditions of the contract, or obtains bids to complete the contract. The bonding company proposal is being evaluated by staff and Council will consider staff’s recommendations but at this time, we are continuing on the basis that we will source a new contractor.

The Budget: With the 2011 budget complete, Council has directed staff to complete a review of the budget process and to make recommendations for changes and improvements. Staff will be interviewing members of Council and stakeholders as part of the review. The emerging Strategic Plan will be much more specific and measured and Council wants this reflected in the budget and financial reporting. Therefore, Council is looking for meaningful change and improvements in the budget process and has asked staff to look at performance-based budgeting and reporting. Staff is reporting back in the fall on this and we expect the 2012 budget process to begin reflecting these changes.

Strategic Plan Public Input: We started work in earnest this week on the Strategic Plan. Council completed a review process with stakeholders which resulted in 20 presentations from community groups on what they determined as critical to Burlington’s future. This included input from cultural groups, sports groups, business groups, advocacy organization, agencies and committees. This was a very successful process from my perspective with great thought and care put into the presentations from these groups. A detailed phone survey has been completed and this was complimented by an internet survey. Residents were also asked to fill out a workbook and we received over 250 detailed submissions. We have received an unprecedented amount of input from the community.

As the Strategic Plan progresses there will be several points where we come back to the community for feedback.

Randle Reef: Regional Council followed Burlington Council and approved a contribution to the Randle Reef problem. Randle Reef, in Hamilton Harbour, is the most toxic site in Canada. While not in our jurisdiction, both Burlington and Halton share the water with Hamilton. With extensive help from the Province and the Federal Government we want this environmental hazard cleaned up.

Downtown: I continue to be concerned about the slow evolution of downtown development. We are seeing land assembly taking place – developers must acquire appropriate land to build – however this is a slow process. In the meantime, property values increase and taxes increase. Retailers in certain areas are seeing landlords limit lease terms in anticipation of development or land sale and taxes are increasing because of increased land values. This has made business challenging for many downtown businesses. We have directed staff to provide a report on the downtown which will be available in June.

Alton: Park development in Alton has finally started. This area of our community has seen a delay in park development but plans are now progressing. A tender has been awarded for Norton Park and the City is moving ahead now with several other projects including New City Park. We are also completing our agreement with the Halton District School Board and the Burlington Public Library for the Alton High School/Community Centre/Library and we will be moving forward with this integrated project shortly.

Queensway Development: Council approved a new townhouse development in the Queensway/ Glenwood School Drive area at Council May 3rd. A number of changes were made to the proposal including reducing the number of proposed units and restricting traffic access on Glenwood School Drive. We continue to have a public consultation process that satisfies both Council and the community and must work to find a better way of handling this process. Based on Burlington’s growth plans and our desire to protect our rural lands we are projecting some 65 townhouse and apartment projects over the next decade.

Emerald Ash Borer: Council increased its commitment to save trees and will be treating additional trees for the Emerald Ash Borer. We will lose many of our local Ash trees over the coming years as a result of this insect, however we are trying to save as many trees as possible on our streets and in our parks to preserve the City’s canopy.

Nelson Quarry: The City and Region are currently involved in a lengthy Joint Hearing regarding the Nelson Quarry. This hearing is public. This hearing is related to Nelson’s desire to expand the quarry on the Mt. Nemo plateau which both the City and Region have opposed.

PERL Application to NEC: Council received a report from staff this month regarding PERL’s application to the NEC. This application proposes to designate the lands associated with the Nelson salamander and identified in the Regional natural heritage system. The City and Region are supporting this application.

INSPIRE Burlington April 12: Our first INSPIRE Burlington Series speaker was Chris Hume from the Toronto Star. We had good attendance despite the federal debate scheduled for the same evening. Our post-event survey was completed by over 30 guests who provided detailed responses. We are very encouraged and have the next speaker scheduled for June 15.

I imagine Burlington…: As part of our INSPIRE Burlington series, I am asking for Burlington residents to tell me how they imagine Burlington. Through my website: www.burlington.ca/mayor under the “Events” section, I encourage you to click on the I Imagine icon and tell me how you imagine Burlington. I hope you will consider uploading any photos of great places and spaces—and tell me how they inspire you to imagine Burlington in a different way.

Other Meetings and Activities: The Chamber of Commerce had a very successful Gala event recognizing award winners in many categories in April. Entrepreneurship is alive and well in Burlington. I also had a private lunch with Mayor McCallion of Mississauga in April. We discussed a number of GTA issues. Members of Council spent the better part of a day touring new Regional Water and Wastewater facilities. These are state of the art and will service residents for decades to come.

This month…:

Community Development Committee May 9 at 6:30pm: A proposed building on Brock Street will be discussed as well as a development at 4070 Dundas.

Burlington Twins: Open their inaugural season in Burlington on May 7 at Nelson Park.

Seniors Seminar: I will be hosting a seminar at the Seniors Centre on May 27 at 9:00am – Live for Today, Plan for Tomorrow – a living-well, living longer symposium for today’s senior. This event is open to all seniors and will feature seminars by Rose Warnica, Travel Only, Murray Zehr, Chef and Head of Technological Education, Robert Bateman High School, and Marg Manias from SunLife. I look forward to presenting up-to-date information on City initiatives and participating in a Q&A session as well.

It’s your city

This column appeared in the Burlington Post on April 20, 2011 and is available online at http://www.insidehalton.com/opinion/columns/article/995737–it-s-your-city

April 20, 2011

Council approved the lowest tax increase in 11 years this month.

After 10 years of increases and some significant growth in the city, it was time to slow spending down.

Building a city is not just about taxes and infrastructure. A community is about people. There has been a lot of discussion about community engagement. As I look around and meet people across the community I see nothing but an engaged community. Engagement comes in many forms.

Burlington has a very active volunteer community. We see this active volunteerism in our sports organizations, cultural activities, faith groups, our festivals, our service clubs such as the Rotary and Lions Clubs and many others.

I attended the MS Walk last weekend and was reminded again of all the people that contribute to our community. I saw the volunteers, organizers and hundreds of participants raising money for a great cause. This happens almost every week in our great city.

Council is now working on the Strategic Plan and we are looking for input from the community about what kind of city you want Burlington to be.

We know change is going to come as it has continued to come since the day Joseph Brant received a deed for 3,724 acres in 1798. He surely would not recognize his homestead today.

In building our community for the future we will have to plan for some changes. When planning we are always looking ahead 20 plus years. Technology, oil prices, population growth, global economic factors and climate change are going to impact us no matter how hard we try to avoid it.

Burlington is not an island. We will work to protect traditional neighbourhoods, to add new buildings and density where appropriate, to improve our transit system where it will be effective and efficient, and to make our streets more pleasant to walk and live.

Continuing to build our local economy will also be critical to maintain Burlington’s quality of life. We need to be entrepreneurial and innovative to participate and prosper in the emerging global economy.

I ask you to take a moment to send me your thoughts, participate in one of our public meetings, or go to the City of Burlington website and find out about our Strategic Plan. It’s your city.