Freeman Station restoration progressing; volunteers, donations needed

Master carpenters Ken Brooks, left, and Joe Wyle stand while working on the wall to enclose the station agent's office. Photo courtesy John Mellow

Master carpenters Ken Brooks, left, and Joe Wyle work on the wall to enclose the station agent’s office. Photo by John Mellow

A team of dedicated volunteers is continuing its work towards restoring Burlington’s Freeman Station to its original glory.

Built in 1906 for the Grand Trunk Railway, the historic station that holds a fond place in the hearts of many residents now needs the community’s help.

With the goal of officially opening the station to mark Canada’s 150th birthday on July 1, 2017, volunteers, monetary donations and donations-in-kind are needed.

The Friends of Freeman Station, a non-profit organization dedicated to restoring the station, is leading the charge. It is planning to launch a fundraising campaign this fall.

This summer and fall, the focus of the work at the station is pouring the floor for the basement, as well as repairing and refinishing the waiting room and station master’s office. A new roof has also been installed. This year, the group is also hoping to complete interior wiring, interior walls and insulation, gas service/energy, repair windows and replace the doors, and find a sewer hookup.

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Exterior of Freeman Station. Photo by Brian Aasgaard

Once complete in 2017, the upstairs area will serve as a museum with interactive displays. It will also serve as a meeting space, which is expected to appeal particularly to non-profit groups.

Brian Aasgaard, president of the board of directors for Friends of Freeman Station, says the project is a labour of love for the volunteers and donors – some of whom have a connection to the station, whether it was sitting in the waiting room for a delivery or pick up, or simply watching the trains come and go.

Currently, about half of the $500,000 has been raised for the project. There are many ways to give – whether cash, in-kind or by sponsoring a stone on the base of the building for $100 each. The group is also seeking sponsorship for the platform (deck) for the front of the station.

Volunteers of all skill levels are also invited to come help with repairs and construction. There are shifts available during the week, as well as on special weekend work days. The station is located on Fairview Street, just east of Maple Avenue.

Volunteers gather at the end of a work session. Left to right, David Filman, Gerry Sullivan, Reg Cooke, Brian Aasgaard, John Mellow, Stan Dunham and Ron Danielsen. Photo by Denny Williams

Volunteers gather at the end of a work session. Left to right, David Filman, Gerry Sullivan, Reg Cooke, Brian Aasgaard, John Mellow, Stan Dunham and Ron Danielsen. Photo by Denny Williams

Friends of Freeman Station is also asking the community for artifacts of the station, as well as stories of memories of the station, that can be part of the exhibit in the historic building.

Model of the freeman station[1]

Model of Freeman Station.

For information or to get involved as a volunteer or donor, call Brian Aasgaard at 905-334-0272 or visit www.freemanstation.ca.

Inspiring Dialogue on Intensification

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This week, I hosted an Inspire Burlington event entitled “Building Burlington: Where to Build in a City That Is Built Out.”

The focus of the evening was a discussion on intensification.

This was the first time I have served as a keynote speaker for the Inspire Burlington series, which is an initiative of my office to foster community dialogue on important topics in our community.

Intensification is one of the main topics I heard about while out knocking on doors during the 2014 election campaign. People wanted to know why we were growing and what the future of our city held when it came to residential development.

It was evident from these conversations that engaging with the community about intensification would be a priority if re-elected as mayor of this great city.

An overview of my presentation can be found in my article on the same topic here.

My purpose in engaging with the community is not to sell people on intensification. Rather, I want to foster understanding about why, how and where we are going to grow.

One key theme that emerged during question period was the issue of the high cost of buying a residential property. I acknowledge Burlington is an expensive city in which to live. That is a byproduct of our high quality of life and key location in the Greater Toronto and Hamilton Area. The future of residential development in Burlington is primarily condominium apartments. We have reached build out, so we will look to responsible, mixed-use developments that are appropriate for the site upon which they are proposed. More stock means more supply and ideally, more options for everyone from young homebuyers to seniors looking to downsize.

There were also questions about the role of the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB). As eloquently stated by our staff, the OMB makes final decisions on developments only when an appeal is filed. The City of Burlington wants to determine how and where we grow, meaning working with developers and residents on appropriate growth is the preferred route rather than rely on the OMB to hand down a final decision.

There were also questions at the event about the environment. Our commitment to ensuring greenspace is worked into new developments, whenever possible, and preserving existing city greenspace, as well as investigating other greenspace opportunities, was reaffirmed. We also reiterated our goal of keeping Burlington’s rural area as protected Greenbelt land.

Audience members also asked about traffic – especially in the downtown core. Our Transportation Master Plan is expected to go before council at the end of this year. This is a 20-year shared vision and strategy that is intended to map out a transportation future that will help the city grow in place by providing multiple travel options that are convenient, affordable and safe.

We were also asked to confirm intensification would occur in more places than downtown. Our Official Plan identifies a number of different sites besides the downtown core for intensification. Among those other areas are the Fairview/Plains Road corridor, Uptown, around our three GO stations and at a number of aging retail plazas across the city.

An overall message I want to stress is that while intensification is part of Burlington’s future, we will not accept growth at any cost. We need to ensure we foster growth that is responsible, thoughtful and sustainable.

I am committed to building a livable Burlington our children and grandchildren will be proud to call home.

In case you weren’t able to attend this week’s Inspire Burlington presentation, here are the dates it will be aired on our local TVCogeco channel:

Wednesday, May 6, 2015 at 9 p.m.

Thursday, May 7, 2015 at 2 p.m.

Friday, May 8, 2015 at 7 p.m.

Saturday, May 9, 2015 at 5 p.m.

Due to community interest, a second date for Inspire Burlington on the same presentation has been added. The event takes place Thursday, May 28 at 7 p.m. in community Rooms 2 & 3 at Tansley Woods Community Centre, 1996 Itabashi Way. Please email mayor@burlington.ca or call 905-335-7607 to register.

Remembering Oakville Councillor Max Khan

I am very sorry to learn of the passing of Max Khan. He was an articulate, passionate, caring and dynamic leader who will be missed.

Ward 6 Oakville Town Councillor Max Khan.

Ward 6 Oakville Town Councillor Max Khan.

Max was elected to his third term on Oakville Town Council in 2014. He served the residents of Oakville as the Ward 6 Town Councillor. He also anticipated running as the federal Liberal candidate for the riding of Oakville North-Burlington.

One of the most vivid memories I have of Max was a speech he gave in Burlington on December 6 at a memorial for the women who were killed and wounded in the Montreal Massacre 25 years ago. He was inspiring.

My thoughts and prayers go to Max’s family, friends, Oakville Mayor Rob Burton and Oakville Town Council.

Managing Burlington’s growth through intensification

This column appears in the February 13, 2015 edition of the Burlington Post.

Intensification is a word we use at city hall and around the community, but I’ve 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’s driving our growth. Continue reading

Setting priorities for 2015

This column appears in the February 2015 edition of Snapd Burlington.

The new year is a time for setting priorities.

I have developed five priorities I believe we as a city can make traction on in 2015.

These five priorities, in no particular order, include intensification, climate change adaptation, economic development, service based budgeting and the Community Energy Plan.

Intensification is an issue I hear about regularly from Burlington residents. People want to know why our community is seeing more residential units being built, particularly in the form of mid-rise and high-rise condominium buildings.

My goal this year is to further engage the community on this topic.

I will be speaking about intensification at every opportunity, as well as inviting feedback from the community. It is important to share with residents the federal and provincial policies that are driving intensification, and how Halton and Burlington are managing these pressures.

Climate change adaptation and education is another priority for 2015. The ice storm of 2013 and flood of 2014 have shown our climate is changing and we need to be prepared.

Currently, municipal and regional staff is working on ways to mitigate flood risks with our stormwater and wastrwater systems. Reports with recommendations are expected this spring.

I will also be hosting a climate change symposium in Burlington in fall 2015.

Economic development also remains a priority, as it was during my first term as mayor. The Burlington Economic Development Corporation (BEDC) has been restructured, with a new executive director and board. The BEDC recently released its updated strategic plan. I look forward to seeing the resulting data in 2015.

Service based budgeting is now in place for the 2015 budget. This is budgeting by service delivered, not by organizational department. The overall goal is to ensure citizens are getting good value for their tax dollar. I will be watching closely to ensure service based budgeting is the right approach.

The city, in partnership with Burlington Hydro, and with the assistance of a group of community stakeholders, has developed a Community Energy Plan for Burlington.

The plan will help us identify areas where conservation and efficiency measures can be focused, as well as assess the potential for local generation, particularly through renewable energy, and the use of smart grid technology.

I invite residents to connect with me by phone at 905-335-7607, by email at mayor@burlington.ca, on Twitter @RickGoldring and on Facebook at Mayor Rick Goldring.