The November and December Committee cycles included reports on a very broad range of subjects as we prepare for the 2012 budget. We also had two development issues which generated large public interest and attendance.
Falcon Boulevard Development
A developer has applied for development on Falcon Boulevard adjacent to an existing multi-unit development. This would result in a multi-unit development on Falcon just below Plains Road. The Public Meeting on this subject followed our new format where the information is provided through a Public Meeting in Chambers and the final staff report is developed after this meeting to a future Committee. This allows a better opportunity for the public to provide input and allows staff to better fully appreciate the public view prior to the final report. This item was discussed at length and will come to committee in the New Year.
John Boich Surplus Land
The Halton District School Board has declared a portion of land adjacent to John Boich School in the Orchard as surplus. The site of the school was originally intended for a High School, however demand in the Orchard resulted in the development of a new elementary school. High Schools typically have more land than elementary schools to accommodate larger sports fields. The City’s surplus land purchase policy was developed based on school closings. This situation is exactly the opposite, as we have a new community bursting at the seams. Council directed staff to reconsider the recommendation on this matter and to look at alternatives to acquire at least a portion of this land to meet community need.
The City is currently working with IKEA to re-locate within Burlington. IKEA wishes to expand and to maintain its Head Office operations in Burlington. A site has been proposed at Walkers Line and the North Service Road. This application would require a re-zoning from employment land to Employment/Retail, however the number of jobs on site is consistent with ratios expected for employment land and I believe it is important to keep IKEA in Burlington. The larger issue is traffic management and we are working with the Ministry of Transportation on this file.
The Beachway residential area has been an issue for some time and as part of the Beachway Master Plan review, we are trying to address this. A Public Meeting was held in late November and was very well attended. The meeting was facilitated by the Region as Beachway Park is a regional park.
At issue are the existing residential properties. The area is designated as a park and full services are not provided. All homes are on septic and there are environmental concerns. Limited property improvements are currently permitted as the current regional policy is that the region wishes to acquire all residential properties for park purposes. Council has directed staff to prepare a report outlining options for maintaining these properties with proper servicing. Servicing cost would be the responsibility of the resident.
Extensive reports were provided to Committee outlining the budget framework for 2012 and beyond. This included:
- A ten year budget forecast with projected tax implications;
- Integration of hospital funding (the recommendation is to extend the existing hospital levy for about 25 years at an increased amount to cover the $60 million funding requirement);
- Identification of some infrastructure funding plans;
- Identification and inclusion of a manageable level of cost associated with the Strategic Plan initiatives.
Council was satisfied with the general framework of these reports which showed a clear move towards meeting our fiscal challenges while maintaining an inflation-type tax increase level. More work will be done as we work through the budget in January and February; however, there has been a significant shift towards a more balanced fiscal approach.
During the budget discussions members of Council commented on the provinces funding challenges. I think we are all aware of the provinces deficit and debt position which must be rectified. Challenging economic times do not mean that nothing gets done; it means that there is more scrutiny and more prioritization. We continue to believe that our hospital, which has seen little improvement in fifty years and does not provide the needed private rooms and services that our community needs, must be addressed.
In response to some of the comments on this subject I submitted a Letter to the Editor which was published in the Burlington Post over the Christmas period. It is available here for your review.
Excellence in Government
Under this Strategic Priority two significant projects were approved by Council.
- Electronic Agenda Management System: The City is moving forward with a much more automated and technically advanced agenda system. This will allow the public much easier access to Committee and Council documents and will make it much easier for the public to follow Council activities.
- E-Government: Council approved a new strategy to move forward with an E-Government program. This project will take several years to fully implement, however it is an important move to improve long term productivity and accessibility. The City will be moving to a Web first delivery model which will provide online service in many more areas and will provide the public with direct access to information. The E-Government strategy also includes a critical customer service element.
Opening week at The Burlington Performing Arts Centre
The Burlington Performing Arts Centrecapped its opening with a week of special events between November 27 and December 3. This included the Blue Jean Gala and a premier performance by Sarah McLachlan. The events were well attended and I congratulate The Centre staff for getting everything done during a hectic opening period.
In addition to the performances, the Burlington Performing Arts Centre received Prime Minister Stephen Harper as a special guest on December 2. The Prime Minister spent most of the day in Burlington; visiting EcoSynthetix, a local business which recently went public, and touring The Centre. The Burlington Teen Tour band played for the Prime Minister.
- January will see the beginning of the budget deliberation and review process with the first Public Meeting on the budget scheduled for February 2.
- The public meeting process for the development of our Engagement Charter will start January 12. The full schedule of Public meetings can be found here.
- The Joseph Brant Hospital Working Group will have a number of meetings through January and February as we negotiate a Memorandum of Understanding and a Contribution Agreement with the hospital. As I indicated in my Letter to the Editor, I will be meeting with provincial representatives throughout this process.
- You may have noticed some changes on the Pier over the holidays. The steel has been removed and the site cleaned up. The new steel production is in process. There will continue to be regular updates as this project proceeds.
New City Manager
I am pleased to advise everyone that City Council has chosen Jeff Fielding, the current City Manager of London as the new City Manager of the City of Burlington. Mr. Fielding will assume his new responsibilities on January 30, 2012.
Mr. Fielding has been the City Manager of the City of London for the past eight years, starting with the city in April, 2004. He focused on bringing stability to the civic administration and instilling confidence in the city’s workforce within the community. Prior to going to London, he was the CAO of the City of Kitchener, where he was born and raised. He has also served as an acting executive officer with the City of Calgary, where he was responsible for Protective Services, Community and Social Services, and Parks and Recreation.
Mr. Fielding is a graduate of the University of Waterloo, where he obtained both his undergraduate and graduate degrees in urban geography and urban planning. He began his work in municipal government in 1978. He worked briefly in Ontario, and following his graduation, he then moved to Alberta to begin a career in regional and city planning. Along the way he has worked in Edmonton, Winnipeg, Calgary and Kitchener where he has held a variety of managerial and corporate positions.
Please join me in welcomeing Jeff and his family to Burlington.
Changes in the Mayor’s Office
I am pleased to announce that Julie Rorison has joined the Mayor’s Office as Assistant to the Mayor’s Office. Julie replaces Wendy Garside who has joined the Planning Department. We wish Wendy the very best and thank her for her work over the last year.
Julie joins the Mayor’s Office after completing eight months as an Intern in the City Manager’s Office. During this period Julie worked on a number of projects within the City. Julie is a graduate of Brock University with a BA Political Science, Honours and a graduate of McMaster University with a MA, Political Science. Julie has also worked for the City of St Catharines, Niagara Region and the Town of Fort Erie.
In addition to the administrative and scheduling responsibilities assigned in the Mayor’s Office, Julie will be taking responsibility for the Mayor’s Social Media.
- Mayor’s State of the City Address to the Chamber of Commerce – January 26, 2012.
- Mayor’s Roundtable with Community Groups – January 31, 2012.
- BEDC Mayor’s Networking Luncheon Series – February 16, 2012
- Inspire Burlington – March 2012.