Reminding drivers, students to be safe this fall

Crossing Guards_King Road-13[1]This column is scheduled to appear in the September 2015 edition of Snapd.

Fall is an exciting time of year for Burlington residents – especially for the young people who call our great city home.

For those attending elementary or secondary school, the arrival of September marks a return to the classroom and reconnecting with friends. There are also students experiencing the excitement of attending school for the first time.

For parents and commuters, fall means getting back into the old routine, or establishing a new one.

I would like to remind everyone in our community to be safe during this busy time.

Many children in our community walk, cycle, skateboard or ride their scooter to school.

Please use the marked intersections when you cross the street, wear your helmet and walk your bicycle across a roadway.

If there is a signaled intersection, push the pedestrian button; stop, look and listen for traffic; watch for turning vehicles and only cross when the road is clear.

I am also asking drivers to pay close attention and give themselves extra time to get to their destination. There are more children on the sidewalks and at crossings during this time, many of whom are excited and new to the experience of travelling to and from school.

I want to remind motorists to reduce their speed in school zones, stop when directed to do so by a crossing guard, be patient and wait for students to complete their crossing before proceeding, and to be ready to stop at all times.

The City of Burlington employs approximately 120 school crossing guards from September to June each year. I want to thank these dedicated individuals for playing a very important role in our community, ensuring children travel safely to and from school each weekday.

Please respect the crossing guards in our community.

A little extra precaution by everyone will mean a great back-to-school season.

I also encourage all students and parents to consider alternative forms of transportation when travelling to and from school. Park the car and give walking, cycling, public transit or other alternative transportation a try. You will be doing the environment, your health and your city a favour. Everyone benefits when we think outside the car.

I wish everyone in Burlington a safe and happy fall season.

Connect with Mayor Rick Goldring by phone at 905-335-7607, by email at mayor@burlington.ca, on Twitter @RickGoldring and on Facebook at Rick Goldring. Subscribe to his monthly digital newsletter by emailing mayor@burlington.ca.

Experience everything Burlington has to offer this summer

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This column is scheduled to appear in the July edition of Snapd.

Burlington was recently named the best medium-sized city for a third year in a row in the MoneySense Magazine’s Best Places to Live 2015 rankings released in June.

The magazine also listed Burlington the third-best city overall in Canada, including the second-best place to raise children.Children's Festival Mascots and kids

Every day I meet residents who tell me how much they love our city. For some residents, they were born here and have remained in Burlington for their entire lives.

For others, it was a visit to one of our festivals or events that inspired them to relocate to Burlington, purchase a home and raise their family here.

Burlington is vibrant city that offers much to experience in all seasons – especially in summer.

With our location between Lake Ontario and the beautiful Niagara Escarpment, Burlington has a tremendous natural environment.

There is the Bruce Trail within the Niagara Escarpment UNESCO World Biosphere Reserve, the world renowned Royal Botanical Gardens and the Cootes to Escarpment EcoPark System. margaret mccallum - bruce trail

Burlington offers a lively and accessible waterfront at Spencer Smith Park with the Brant Street Pier, Discovery Landing, the Burlington Rotary Centennial Pond and the Dofasco Waterjet Park.

There are beautiful parks and recreational facilities across our city that are great sites for recreation and family time.

Burlington also hosts many unique festivals and events throughout the year – with a large number of them in the summer months.

In June, hundreds of thousands of residents and visitors attended the Sound of Music Festival.

The Canada Day celebrations on July 1 are also a popular attraction.

There are numerous other festivals and events in the summer, such as the Sandcastles Festival and Children’s Festival in August and Canada’s Largest Ribfest on Labour Day weekend.Sandcastle Festival 111

Close to our waterfront are two cultural destinations: the Art Gallery of Burlington and the Burlington Performing Arts Centre.

History buffs can enjoy historic LaSalle Park, Ireland House and the Joseph Brant Museum, where our pioneer and aboriginal heritage have been preserved.

More information about enjoying a great summer in Burlington can be found on the City of Burlington’s website at www.burlington.ca and Tourism Burlington’s website at www.tourismburlington.com.

Have a wonderful summer – and make sure to stop and say hello when you see me at the many events around town this summer.IMG_3550

Connect with Mayor Rick Goldring by phone at 905-335-7607, by email at mayor@burlington.ca, on Twitter @RickGoldring and on Facebook at Rick Goldring. Subscribe to his monthly digital newsletter by emailing mayor@burlington.ca.

We asked, you answered: 2015 Community Survey

Photo courtesy the Burlington Economic Development Corporation.

This column is scheduled to appear in the June 19 edition of the Burlington Post.  

The City of Burlington 2015 Community Survey asked residents about various aspects of Burlington, such as quality of life, city services and which priorities council should focus on during the next four years.

A total of 771 residents over the age of 18 were surveyed, with at least 125 interviews completed in each ward.

Quality of life

Residents continue to feel Burlington is a good place to live. Nearly all respondents, 96%, said it was at least good, with the majority of respondents, 86% saying it was either very good or excellent.

One of this year’s new open-ended questions was what residents like best about Burlington.

The top three responses were: access to amenities and services (15%), sense of community/small town feel (13%) and safe/low crime rate (11%).

City services satisfaction

When residents surveyed were asked to rate their overall satisfaction with city services the large majority – 89% – said that they were “somewhat” or “very satisfied”.

The services residents were most satisfied with were: fire protection (95%); parks and open space maintenance (90%); parks, open spaces and sports fields (90%); city arenas (88%); cemetery (88%); arts and culture (87%); and recreation programs (86%).

The survey results also identified city services they felt could be improved.

The services residents surveyed said they were least satisfied with were: winter maintenance (64%), traffic operations management (63%), building code permits and inspection (63%); parking management (60%); surface water drainage (57%); transit service (55%) and transportation network planning (52%).

Priorities for council

The survey also saw respondents rank a list of priorities on which council should focus.

The top five priorities were: community safety (76%); commitment to infrastructure (76%); healthy community (73%); sound financial practices (69%); and parks and community open, green spaces (69%).

Food for thought

We consistently hear from people they choose to live in Burlington because it is a great city with wonderful amenities and great people.

However, there is always room for improvement.

We are carefully reviewing the results with our staff and will be looking for ways to build on the valuable feedback from our residents.

I welcome your feedback on what you love about our city, and how we could do better.

The survey results are on the city’s website at www.burlington.ca/strategicplan.

Coming together at the Burlington Garden in Apeldoorn

 The following is today’s speech by Mayor Rick Goldring celebrating the preview of the Burlington Garden in Apeldoorn.

Good afternoon and Goedemiddag,

I would like to extend warm greetings to Mayor John Berends, Apeldoorn Burlington Committee Chair Jan Koorenhof, Burlington Apeldoorn Committee Chair Charles Minken, Burlington Mundialization Chair Ed Dorr, our citizens, the Burlington Teen Tour Band and our friends in attendance.park8

What a glorious occasion it is to be here today at the preview of Burlington Garden during the 10th anniversary of the official twinning of Burlington and Apeldoorn.

The Burlington Garden is a meaningful initiative for both the City of Apeldoorn and the City of Burlington.

Two years ago, Mayor Berends and I celebrated the groundbreaking for Apeldoorn Park in downtown Burlington. How quickly time has passed, my friend.

Apeldoorn Park officially opened in Burlington in September 2014. It was a special occasion as Apeldoorn high school students were present at the opening.parkapeldoorn

It has many Dutch features, with orange play equipment, benches engraved with tulips, and hundreds of Apeldoorn tulips.

Every time I drive or walk by Apeldoorn Park, I see children playing or seniors sitting enjoying the scenery. Apeldoorn Park is a park that holds a special place in the hearts of our residents.

It is an honour to be here today at the opening of Burlington Garden.park7

I see there are aspects of this site that are truly Canadian, with maple leaves decorating your benches, the walkway and planned maple trees.

This garden embodies the friendship and close bond between the people of Burlington and Apeldoorn.

It is also symbolic of city council’s dedication to the welfare of the people of Apeldoorn, as the garden will be maintained by area citizens and residents of Heeren Loo.

It is beautiful to think that children will be playing in Burlington Garden at the same time as children in Apeldoorn Park.park4

Although we are separated by a vast ocean and hundreds of miles, we are family.

Canadian Forces played an important role in liberating the Netherlands during the Second World War, which forever entwined our countries.

As a Canadian, I am proud of the contributions we have made to your country.park9

I’d like to end with a few lines from a famous Canadian folk song: “Four strong winds that blow lonely; Seven seas that run high; All these things that don’t change come what may.”

Decades after the war left its impact on our countries, one thing that has remained as timeless as the landscape is our friendship.

park10May it always continue to be that way.

Dankjewel.

Building Burlington: Where to Build in a City That is Built Out – Connecting with you about intensification

Tanya Hendriks - view from Kern Cliff ParkIntensification is a word we use at City Hall and around the community, but I have heard questions about what it means, especially as it applies to Burlington.

One of my priorities is engaging with residents on the topic of intensification.

To understand intensification, we need to understand what is driving our growth.

The Government of Canada has welcomed an average of 250,000 new immigrants per year since 2007.

Recognizing Ontario is a prime destination for many newcomers, the provincial government released the Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe in 2006.

This serves as a tool for municipalities to plan for the projected residential and employment growth of an additional 3.7 million residents and 1.8 million jobs in the Greater Golden Horseshoe by 2031.

As a result of Places to Grow, Halton Region developed the Sustainable Halton Growth Management Strategy to manage growth for the anticipated 780,000 people and 390,000 jobs in Halton by the year 2031.

What does this mean for Burlington?

A key question is: What does this mean for Burlington?

Our population is almost 180,000. The City and Region determined it will grow to 193,000 by 2031.

In a city that is almost built out, where 50 per cent of our city is protected Greenbelt land, the next question is: Where do we grow?

One of the sites slated for intensification is the downtown core. This was established by the province as an Urban Growth Centre.

Our Official Plan also identifies other sites suited for intensification, such as Uptown located at Appleby Line between Mainway and Upper Middle Road.IMG_3307

We are also looking to Urban Growth Corridors, like Fairview Street and Plains Road.

As part of the Official Plan review, we are researching new opportunities for growth in the two provincially-designated mobility hubs, Burlington GO station and Downtown Burlington, as well as the two City-identified mobility hubs around Aldershot and Appleby GO stations.

We are also reviewing intensification opportunities at the city’s aging retail plazas.

It is important to remember why we are building within rather than sprawling out.

Council along with the Province through its Greenbelt Plan has been committed for decades to safeguarding our rural area, which makes up about 50 per cent of the land area of the City of Burlington. We are intensifying within Burlington’s urban boundary because protecting our rural land continues to be a priority.

What makes sense for Burlington?

Two questions I hear from some residents are, “Why do we have to grow? Why can’t Burlington stay the same?”

If we take federal and provincial policies out of the picture, what makes sense when it comes to residential growth for Burlington? Would we intensify regardless of growth policies?

I firmly believe shutting the door to growth through intensification is not a viable option for Burlington.

Since we are essentially at build out, halting residential growth within our urban boundaries means there would be little additional housing stock.

The low supply of housing could further increase residential real estate prices, making it even more of a challenge for our young people moving out on their own or our seniors looking to downsize to stay in the community.

Increased housing prices could lead to a decrease in the number of families in Burlington. This could impact school enrolment.

There could also be an impact on property taxes with little to no growth. Ten years ago we had three per cent assessment growth. Last year, we saw one per cent assessment growth and that is expected to fall to 0.5 per cent moving forward. As a result of a flat tax base, taxes could go up, services could be reduced or a combination of both.Plains Road Mosaic 02

We have the tools to manage our growth in a responsible way – in conjunction with community engagement. Let’s work together to continue to foster a made-in-Burlington approach to growth, creating a sustainable city for generations to come.

Engaging with you on intensification

As a result of a staff direction from city council, the City of Burlington is currently developing a communication program to provide community engagement, dialogue and participation with Burlington residents about why and how we will transition redevelopment in urban areas of the community.

An online survey was posted earlier this month, with more engagement opportunities coming soon.

I invite you to connect with City of Burlington about intensification through upcoming engagement opportunities that are part of our communication initiative. Learn more at: http://www.burlington.ca/intensification.

As mayor, I also welcome invitations from community groups, service clubs or organizations to come speak to you on this issue. Please contact me at mayor@burlington.ca or call 905-335-7607 with your requests.

What are some of the benefits of intensification?

  • Makes efficient use of scarce land resources.
  • Is a viable alternative to urban sprawl.
  • Fosters walkable neighbourhoods, decreasing reliance on the car and preventing increased traffic backlogs.Spencer_Ice108-8x12[1]
  • Increases the number of residents in an area, providing the population base for augmented transit service levels.
  • More efficient use of land can impact housing affordability by reducing land component of housing costs.
  • Brings new families into existing neighbourhoods, filling school classrooms and making use of existing park and playground facilities.