Turning on to the environment and turning off your engine

Anti-IdlingCouncil and the City of Burlington are committed to sustaining the quality of life that we have come to know and enjoy in our community. One of those key factors is protecting and enhancing our environment. The importance of the natural environment was identified in the city’s strategic plan where over 4,000 community members participated in its development. The vision of the plan titled Burlington, Our Future is “where people, nature and business thrive.”  Within our corporation, we have staff dedicated to our environment – Burlington’s sustainability team. I invite you to learn more online about how we are reducing our impact on the environment and how you too can do your part to reduce your impact .

One of the priorities I would like to focus on is air quality.

Vehicle idling can have a dramatic impact on local air quality; when idling vehicles are present, pollution levels rise. And poor air quality has a dramatic impact on our health and well-being; it can trigger asthma and other breathing difficulties for many people.

Poor air quality has also been linked to cancer as announced recently by the World Health Organization. As reported on CBC, the WHO has declared that air pollution in our cities is the most important environmental carcinogen, equating it with tobacco smoke and UV radiation. More and more information is being released about poor air quality and the effects on our health. In a recent National Post article, exhaust fumes have been shown to increase the risk of heart failure.
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Cultural Action Plan: Building a Creative Community

The Burlington Community Foundation recently released the second edition of Burlington’s Vital Signs – an annual check-up that evaluates Burlington as a place to live, work, and play by identifying trends that are critical to our quality of life. Included in that report are survey results that indicate 76% of residents said culture is “essential” or “highly important” in their daily lives.

Culture means many things – painting, writing, music, museums, public art, landscapes, streetscapes, memorials, sport. Culture can build our identity and community pride, improve the quality of life for all, engage people of all ages in our environment, and help us to embrace our diversity.

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

Gord Hume , in his book Cultural Planning for Creative Communities states that Cultural planning and “becoming a creative community means protecting our unique heritage properties, having a throbbing downtown core, being appealing to entrepreneurs, and generating new wealth. It means being a ‘Smart Community’. It means respecting the environment. It means being innovative and progressive as a community. It means having ‘buzz’.” Continue reading

Burlington ‘Vital Signs’ Report

Last summer I asked Halton Social Services to put together a meaningful summary of what is happening in Halton and Burlington. For the most part, I was able to confirm the issues that I see and hear about every day. No matter how successful we are as a City and as a Community, there will always be those looking to catch up.

This is not a futile exercise. People move up the economic ladder through opportunity and education. Sometimes, society has to provide that support network so that survival is assured and opportunity can be taken advantage of. Many of us live with privilege that we take for granted and we simply don’t see the challenges that others face.

The Burlington Community Foundation has just released its first Burlington Vital Signs 2012 Report. I invite you to take a look. Burlington is one of the very best places to live for about 85% of the residents; but  many others struggle just as they do in any community.

Although always a struggle, the many volunteers and contributors to worthy causes in Burlington make a huge difference through their efforts, and offer hope and opportunity to the less fortunate. As our community focuses on funding the needed hospital re-development, I am concerned that we will lose sight of those in real need. Meeting the needs of all members of the community is important to our community’s success.

I would like to express my gratitude to the Burlington Community Foundation for taking this step and introducing Vital Signs to Burlington. Awareness of the needs of others is needed so that we can help provide the opportunities required.

How are we doing so far?

The Mayor’s Survey: Your Feedback

August 1, 2012 

This summer, I have been taking the opportunity to reach out and meet with the public the old fashioned way – by knocking on doors and simply asking what you have to say.

I have been spending a couple of hours every few days meeting with residents across the City. I have received a great response. It is wonderful to be reminded what it is that residents appreciate so much about Burlington as a great place to live. I have also set up a short survey which I am asking residents to complete and the responses are continuing to come in.

One of the key questions I have been asking is does the Strategic Plan – Vibrant neighbourhoods, Prosperity and Excellence in Government – reflect your priorities for the city? Almost 90% of the responses to-date indicate that this Vision does reflect their priorities. I have had many additional comments on other important concerns including traffic, public transit and making sure that those not as fortunate have the opportunity to fully participate in the community.

I have also been asking residents to prioritize the key areas we are addressing. This input will certainly help me as we work to balance the needs across the community.

Residents have also indicated their continued frustration with the Pier. The Pier continues to be a distraction and we all want this project finished.

I would like to thank all those people that were so kind to me on their doorstep and provided such straight forward and thoughtful comments. I will be continuing to knock on doors for the next few days and I encourage you to complete the survey available through my website.

Thank you and enjoy the rest of the summer.

Pier Wind Turbine Update

May 30, 2012

At last night’s Community Service Committee, Council was asked to review new information about the wind turbine that was removed from the pier project.  Council received and filed the report last night. This means that the turbine project was not reconsidered and remains out of the project scope.

Council and staff are focused on completing the pier. The wind turbine was a project initiated by Burlington Hydro in 2005. At that time, renewable energy was in its infancy relative to local projects. The project was for demonstration purposes.

Since 2006, when the pier project was originally rendered, technology and implementation of renewable energy projects has progressed. The City recently implemented a significant project at Fire Station # 8 and is continuing to look at appropriate opportunities for renewable energy use. The City has also initiated the Community Energy Program to look at long term energy sustainability and this project will include, energy conservation and renewable energy generation as part of the long term plan.

A wind turbine at the end of the pier presents some challenges. Given the option, Council has chosen to minimize any of those issues and I am sure will continue to look at viable renewable energy projects in the future.