Prosperity, Affordable Housing, Railway Safety, Culture, Airpark and more: Burlington Progress Report: November 2013

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November 27, 2013

Burlington Progress Report, November 2013

Upcoming Committee Meetings

Burlington Airpark

On November 13th, Milton Superior Court ruled in City of Burlington’s favour against the Burlington Executive Airpark. They ruled that the City’s site alteration by-law applies to the Burlington Airpark.

This is a significant decision for Burlington and for municipalities throughout Ontario.

I would like to thank the residents for their perseverance with this initiative, and our staff for working hard with all parties for this outcome.

Read the specific rulings and information on the decision posted online.


I am very pleased to let you know that IKEA’s move to the North Service Road is moving ahead with the approval of two staff reports by Burlington City Council, at its meeting on November 13, 2013.

This is an important step that not only accommodates the transportation needs of the IKEA project, but also provides a long term transportation solution for the city’s Prosperity Corridor. With the transportation issues addressed we can attract other employment land growth to this area.

Further details are available in the press release from November 14.

QEW Prosperity Corridor: Transportation and Improvements

Employment lands are critical to the economic and social viability of the city and its neighbourhoods. Last year, Council endorsed aggressive industrial/commerical growth targets that require us to focus on creating short and long-term development opportunities.

This means establishing key employment districts for targeted growth and development, including Burlington’s Prosperity Corridor – the area along the QEW. This is an important element of the city’s plan to increase employment in Burlington.

The application by IKEA resulted in a need to make significant transportation network improvements to the North Service Road corridor. City staff have worked closely with IKEA and their consultants, the Burlington Economic Development Corporation, the Ministry of Transportation and Conservation Halton to find a solution that satisfies the needs and objectives of the City and allows IKEA to proceed with their planned relocation and expansion.

Read the recommendation.

On November 25, Council approved the request by staff to enter into agreements with IKEA to begin road improvements to Walker’s Line and the North Service Road, as well as agreements with the Ministry of Transportation for improvements at the interchange between Walker’s Line and the QEW.

Downtown Strategic Action PlanDowntown Burlington

On November 4, Council unanimously approved the Revised Core Commitment: Burlington’s Downtown Vision and Action Plan.

The prosperity and vibrancy of Downtown Burlington is important to the whole city.

I have often stated that I believe that our downtown is the heart and soul of our community.

Our biggest festivals and events take place in our downtown and along our waterfront. The Sound of Music Festival, Canada’s Largest Ribfest, Canada Day Celebrations and our Children’s Festivals are a few of the events that contribute to a connected and vibrant community.

Our downtown is also an Urban Growth Centre within the Province of Ontario’s Places to Grow Plan, meaning that we will continue to attract new jobs and residents to our downtown.

I thank council for their support in reviewing and recommitting to the Downtown Burlington Core Commitment. More information is available on the City’s website, including a press release.

Burlington Transit Service ChangesTransit Burlington

Burlington Transit introduced a number of changes to its service on November 3, 2013, as part of the final phase of the interim service plan.

These additional changes reflect added service options based on ridership statistics and feedback from both customers and transit staff. Included are enhanced evening, weekend and holiday service and more frequent service on select routes across the city.

We have had many comments and inquiries about the changes and I would like to thank  everyone that took the time to pass along your feedback.

I have heard from many people, seniors in particular, about the withdrawal of service to the door at Mapleview Mall. I understand the challenges that this brings to many of the seniors in our community who now have to navigate from the corner of Maple Avenue and Thorpe Road. I do want to reassure you that Burlington Transit’s Handi-van service continues to enter and exit the Mall parking lot and provide curb service for customers that use this service.

The decision to withdraw the service was based on ensuring that Burlington Transit provide reliable service with reliable connections within our transit routes, many of which interconnect at this intersection, and then provide service to the GO station.

Unfortunately, when our large buses navigate the mall property, they are often caught within significant traffic jams from vehicular traffic, delivery vehicles and pedestrians. This has caused many operational and safety issues, particularly when delivery trucks or other vehicles are illegally parked. There is great difficulty in navigating a large bus under these circumstances. The buses that entered the mall were disrupted and delayed more than 70% of the time.

Transit staff have worked with the Mall management to discuss options to place bus stops in convenient locations. Currently a bus shelter is located on Maple Avenue and will be replaced with a new shelter located at the new bus stop centrally located at the mall entrance and opposite Thorpe Road.

Transit staff are also working with the Mall management to discuss the potential of transit-only lanes within the mall footprint that would allow for transit to enter and exit the property without mixing with the current vehicular traffic. The goal for Mapleview will be for a bus-only lane with bus stops in closer proximity to the mall entrance and transit priority measures that would allow for transit to service the mall with minimal impact to the schedule. A number of meetings have occurred and will continue to occur to move this opportunity further.

In the last few weeks, mall management, with guidance from Transportation staff, have installed traffic control measures to improve safety within the mall property.

Burlington Transit staff are continuing to log all feedback on the change in service. Your comments are valuable and will be included in the gathering of information and feedback from transit riders. After several weeks, adjustments have already been made to certain schedules to ensure connections between routes are met.

A change to the delivery of service of this magnitude will cause some areas of discomfort for customers that are affected by the changes. However, the high performing routes are experiencing very positive results and we are no longer seeing empty buses which is very positive news.

Burlington Transit will continue to monitor the routes, transfer points and customer comments and make adjustments as required.

 Community GardensCommunity Garden, Burlington

On November 25, Council voted to continue the operation of the Central Park Community Garden, as well as assuming responsibility for the garden on Francis road and initiating a new garden in the Amherst Heights community.

The Central Park Community Garden is wildly popular and the addition of a new community garden helps ensure that more of our residents have the ability to grow their own food.

I would like to thank BurlingtonGreen for their ongoing efforts in administering, operating and providing Community Garden programming through the Growing Roots Project and look forward to their continued engagement with these new community gardens.

 Parking Changes

The City of Burlington conducted a study on street and front yard parking in residential neighbourhoods. The objective of the study was to work with residents to develop options and solutions that are practical and meet the needs of residents. Residents from throughout the city were able to share their thoughts and ideas at public meetings and through our online discussion and survey.

The staff report including recommendations will be considered by the city’s development and infrastructure committee on December 2.


For the month of December, parking will be FREE in downtown Burlington on street and in city lots, as well as in the parking garage. Starting in January, every Saturday will be free as well. Watch this video on how to P for free!


Municipal Election 2014: Update

Next year is an election year for all municipalities across Ontario. On October 27, 2014, you will have the opportunity to elect a Mayor, Ward Councillor and Regional Chair, as well as school board trustees.

The City is currently running a survey to help choose when and where to hold advance polls and give us more information about online voting. Please take a moment to share your opinion and check back online for more election information.

Railway Safety

In October I was invited to sit on the Railway Safety Task Force Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO). On October 31, 2013, along with city staff, I participated in a meeting to review rail safety issues and potential areas of investigation.

With a number of rail crossings that are located within our borders, the City of Burlington is committed to providing safety to our residents. As a result, under the staff direction of Council, Burlington staff have been conducting a rail line safety and awareness review (pedestrian access only) and have connected with various stakeholders to learn more about the services and strategies that are available to help in the prevention of rail fatalities so that we can establish a series rail safety objectives.

Staff will be bringing forward a report in 2014 with details on the objectives established and accomplishments to-date.

Smoke Free Parks

Smoking is the number one cause of death and disease in Ontario. It kills 13,000 people every year.  The province has developed a comprehensive Smoke-Free Ontario Strategy which combines public education with programs, policies and legislation to:

  • help smokers to quit,
  • protect non-smokers from exposure to second-hand smoke, and
  • encourage young people to never start.

The Smoke-Free Ontario Act prohibits smoking in workplaces, enclosed public spaces and also in motor vehicles when children under 16 are present. These efforts have greatly reduced tobacco use and lowered health risks to non-smokers in Ontario.

In Burlington, we have just approved a by-law prohibiting smoking in our public parks and recreation facilities to promote Burlington as a healthy community and protect the health of our residents.

Cultural Action Plan

Cultural Action Plan, Burlington

Early in November, Council unanimously approved Burlington’s first Cultural Action Plan and it’s strategic recommendations that will enhance cultural development in Burlington.

I have read a number of books and articles in recent months, particularly as we worked through this process. Universally, they state that progressive communities need to integrate social, cultural, environmental and economic policies into the long-term plans for the city.

Richard Florida, author of Who’s Your City, states “cities and regions will increasingly need to invest in, and build up, their real capital – that comes from the energy and talent of their people.”

I recently hosted an Inspire Burlington event on Creative Cities with Trevor Copp, local artist and entrepreneur and the Artistic Director of Tottering Biped Theatre, and Jeremy Freiburger of CoBALT Connects, the architect behind the Cultural Action Plan.

Their presentation was, indeed, inspirational. Their obvious passion for the arts and their knowledge of how we can enhance and build our creative economy, was recieved with enthusiasm. For those who wish to watch, TV Cogeco will rebroadcast this event on November 30 at 10 am, December 3 at 1 pm and December 6 at 3 pm.

Some highlights of the Cultural Action Plan include:

  • Creation of a Burlington Arts and Culture Alliance/Network
  • Establishment of a centralized cultural service body within the City of Burlington
  • Investigating local investment opportunities and support for emerging organizations and events
  • Enhanced communication and online profile of culture in Burlington, including an online cultural map and database

The Cultural Action Plan report and recommendations are available online.

The Burlington HiveBurlington Hive

A new business venture has opened up in downtown Burlington – the Burlington HiVE – a collaborative workspace for entrepreneurs, located at Village Square.

Earlier in my term, I visited Google and Comutech in Kitchener and the Centre for Social Innovation in Toronto. These unique collaborative open workspaces create a vibrant and energy-filled place for learning and development of businesses and I was truly impressed by the culture of entrepreneurship that they promote.

One of the key objectives in our Strategic Plan is to nurture an innovative business community, to attract new businesses and knowledge downtown, and to create lifestyle opportunities for young professionals and entrepreneurs to live and work in their own communities. The Burlington HiVE is a welcome new business within our core that supports innovation, creativity and entrepreneurship and brings this very same type of collaborative environment to our local business community.

The Burlington HiVE provides the opportunity for small business owners and entrepreneurs to work in a positive environment, with great services and amenities, where collaboration and sharing is welcome – and it comes with an affordable price tag. Check out the article about the Burlington HiVE in the Burlington Post.

Joseph Brant Hospital Update

On November 25 the Honourable Deb Matthews, Minister of Health and Long-Term Care announced that the Joseph Brant Hospital redevelopment project has been re-scoped from the original plan with additional beds, a new ICU and a new Emergency Department. More information is available on the Joseph Brant Hospital website.

 #AskRick: Google Hangout with the Mayor


I want to hear more from the young people of Burlington, the so-called “Millennials” who live, work, study and contribute to our community.

I’m hosting a chat on Google Hangouts on Tuesday, December 10 at 8 pm. I’ll be taking questions, comments and looking for feedback about some of the very important issues we are dealing with including:

  • Engagement – how are young people engaged and connected in our community?
  • Quality of Life and Affordability – what do young people like about Burlington and do they want to stay here?
  • Creating jobs and fostering entrepreneurship – how can we support young professionals and entrepreneurs to stay and work in Burlington?

I’ll be taking your feedback and any questions that you have for me about city government and Burlington. Use #AskRick to tweet me your questions, and comments for discussion and let’s chat on Dec. 10.

Read more about this event

Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance

I have been invited to sit on the The Greater Toronto Marketing Alliance (GTMA) Board of Directors. The GTMA is a public-private partnership that serves as the key point of contact for businesses exploring opportunities in the Greater Toronto Area (GTA).

The partnership brings together the 29 municipalities and regions in the Greater Toronto Area, the governments of Ontario and Canada, several not-for-profit organizations, and a broad cross section of private sector corporations. The GTMA actively promotes the Greater Toronto Area internationally, and provides companies with professional assistance in evaluating, planning and implementing an expansion or move to the GTA.

My role will start in January 2014 and I am looking forward the opportunity to represent the interests of Burlington and Halton Region on the Board.

Council Compensation Review

Every four years a Citizen Committee is appointed to review Council compensation, expense limits and staffing requirements. The mandate of the committee is to complete the necessary research, outline the basis for their recommendations and make recommendations to inform members of council about the options available.

Earlier this month the Citizen Committee made their recommendations; the minutes of the committee meeting that detail the outcome are available online.

The committee recommended that the compensation and staffing requirements remain the same. They also recommended the withdrawal of compensation for the Mayor in the role of member of the Board of Directors for Burlington Hydro. Since 2000, the Mayor of the city has been compensated the same way as other board members for serving on the Burlington Hydro Board. This is a very common practice in a number of municipalities. The committee made a recommendation that no member of Council should receive compensation for being on the Hydro Board.

After much discussion, a vote took place on this particular issue at Committee. Without my vote, the decision was equally split. I felt I should support the Citizen Committee recommendation, so I did vote in favour of the recommendation for the removal of my compensation as a member of the Hydro Board. However, I will continue to remain on the Hydro Board. (In 2012, I received $12,000 in my role as a member of the Board.)

Burlington Hydro is an important strategic asset that contributes to economic development and generates over $4 million in revenue for the city. I feel it is very important for the Mayor to continue to actively participate as a member of the Board.

Affordable HousingAffordable Housing

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities recently announced that a national housing campaign – Fixing Canada’s Housing Crunch – has been launched through the Big City Mayors’ Caucus.

Given the well-known shortage of affordable housing in our Region, I believe that this is a campaign that the City of Burlington should support.

I brought forward a Resolution to Council which was approved early this month and I have written a blog on the shortage of affordable housing in Burlington and Halton Region.

To recognize National Housing Day earlier this month, Affordable Housing Halton hosted a half-day event with a number of key stakeholders including the Halton Poverty Roundtable, the Halton Multicultural Council, Habitat for Humanity Halton and the Halton Region. The Halton Housing Alliance a community based collaborative creating financially viable housing solutions was also launched.

I am planning on hosting an Inspire Burlington in the first half of 2014 with a focus on the affordable housing situation in Burlington and Halton Region.

Inspire Burlington

Inspire Burlington

This year I hosted another six Inspire Burlington events this year, with a wide variety of topics and well over 700 people attending:

  • November 23: Creative Cities with Trevor Copp and Jeremy Freiburger
  • October: 22nd Century Community Engagement with Dr. Angus Reid
  • September: Community Energy Planning with Brent Gilmour
  • June: Walkable and Livable Communities with Dan Burden
  • May: Health and the Built Environment with Dr. David Mowat
  • February: Perverse Cities: Hidden Subsidies, Wonky Policy and Urban Sprawl with Dr. Pamela Blais

Information on their presentations are available online.

I hope to continue to bring these opportunities to residents in Burlington in the first half of 2014 and will be looking at topics in the area of affordable housing and economic prosperity.

Thank you to everyone who has attended and to the amazing speakers we have engaged.

Communication in 2014

During 2014, a number of communications-related changes take place as a result of the 2014 Municipal Election.

The first change will be the removal of my social media links from the City’s webpages. This does not mean my blog or my social media accounts are discontinued. You will still find me here at and also on Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, Youtube, and Google+

You can also subscribe to receive my newsletters and progress reports here on the home page to the right hand side: “Sign Up”

From July 1 until Election Day (October 27, 2014), my web pages on the City website and Mayor’s blog will not be available.
If you have any concerns or questions, please let me know via email



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