September 2015 Progress Report

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Committee and Council Meetings

Agendas, minutes and videos on standing committee and council meetings in September, as well as agendas and reports for upcoming meetings, are available online.

Challenging Residents to Think Outside the Car

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Mayor Rick Goldring, MPP Eleanor McMahon, Councillors Jack Dennison and Blair Lancaster, and students and staff at the launch of Think Outside the Car at M.M. Robinson H.S.

I am challenging Burlington residents to leave the car at home and choose active and alternative transportation during the Think Outside the Car Challenge between September 15 and October 30.
 
Many of the trips by Burlingtonians are within a very short distance, in fact, 50 per cent of them are less than 5 km. These are the ideal distances to cycle, walk or hop on a Burlington Transit bus. These alternative modes of transportation not only promote a healthy lifestyle but also save money on the cost of gas, parking and have very little impact on our air quality.

 To participate in the challenge:
  • Ask a friend or family member to take a photo or video of you using alternative transportation when you would have normally taken your vehicle. Share on social media using #ThinkOutsidetheCar
  • Challenge three friends, family members or co-workers to choose alternative transportation instead of using their vehicle
  • Be part of the change
On September 15, students at M.M. Robinson High School  helped me launch the Think Outside the Car Challenge at a special kickoff event. I was pleased to be joined by Eleanor McMahon, MPP  for Burlington, and a number of City staff, as well as M.M. Robinson students and staff, for the event.
 
Travelling by car is very popular in Burlington. Ninety per cent of all trips within our city are made with an automobile. If we are going to reduce traffic congestion and create a greener city, the entire community needs to work together and consider other forms of transportation.
[youtube]https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KjwFTdlfDkw[/youtube]
 
To learn more about the Think Outside the Car Challenge and how you can get involved, visit www.burlington.ca/outsidethecar or connect on Facebook at www.facebook.com/thinkoutsidethecar, on Twitter at www.twitter.com/OutsidetheCar and on Instagram at www.instagram.com/ThinkOutsidetheCar.

 

Support for Syrian Refugees

We are all aware of the unfolding humanitarian crisis in Syria at this time as millions of people are fleeing their homeland for destinations of safety for loved ones and themselves.

Several municipal governments across Canada have stepped up as facilitators to make it easier for Syrian refugees to find a welcoming destination in this country and put an end to their nightmare of terror and hardship.

Burlington will be stepping up in this role as well. I will be reaching out to faith-based and other community groups in the days ahead to find ways to co-ordinate our efforts for maximum benefit. There will be periodic updates from my office via social media and my newsletter.

Federal Election

On October 19, Canadians go to the polls to vote for the candidate of their choice and to decide who will lead the next federal government. Among the many considerations in determining where to cast their ballots, foremost in the minds of most Canadians are the economy, jobs, immigration, the environment, national security and taxation.

I encourage you to also closely examine the various party platforms on municipal issues. In this edition of my newsletter, I give attention to some of the national organizations that are active on local government issues, specifically the Federation of Canadian Municipalities and the Canadian Urban Transit Association.

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM)

The Federation of Canadian Municipalities (FCM) is an important voice for Canadian cities to advocate for access to federal resources for big ticket items such as transportation infrastructure that keep our cities moving as well as policies and programs in areas such as housing that are so important to the social fabric of our cities.

Among the various tools that it has created in order to advance the needs of local government, the FCM has created a Roadmap for Strong Cities and Communities, which focuses on such topics as: local jobs and growth; livable communities; safe cities and communities; environmentally sustainable cities and communities; and global municipal connections.

Additional information from the FCM about their federal election advocacy can be found at hometownproud.fcm.ca and citiescan.ca.

The Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA)

The Canadian Urban Transit Association (CUTA) is an association of public transit systems, government agencies and transportation sector stakeholders. CUTA can lay claim to recent lobbying success in establishment of the the new federal Public Transit Fund http://pm.gc.ca/eng/news/2015/06/18/pm-announces-further-details-new-public-transit-fund.

If you would like to know more about CUTA’s election related activity, check out its Election Blog http://lets-move.ca/election-blog/ for “…insights into party platforms, interesting opinions about transit and what this election might mean for Canadian integrated mobility…”.

The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) Annual Conference

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The Association of Municipalities of Ontario (AMO) is composed of several hundred municipal governments in this province whose mandate is to support and enhance strong and effective municipal government in Ontario.

Between August 16 – 19th of this year, I attended the annual AMO Conference in Niagara Falls for a series of workshops, presentations, consultations with provincial ministers and trade show of suppliers of services to local governments.

The role of AMO is extremely valuable in delivering value to its member municipalities which have responsibility for these areas of service within their boundaries:

  • Airport infrastructure
  • Ambulance
  • Animal Control and By-law Enforcement
  • Arts and Culture
  • Child Care
  • Economic Development
  • Fire Services
  • Garbage Collection and Recycling
  • Electric Utilities
  • Library Services
  • Long Term Care and Senior Housing
  • Maintenance of Local Road Networks
  • Parks and Recreation
  • Public Transit
  • Planning New Community Developments and Enhancing Existing Neighbourhoods
  • Police Services
  • Property Assessment
  • Provincial Offences Administration
  • Public Health
  • Sidewalks
  • Snow Removal
  • Social Services
  • Social Housing
  • Storm Sewers
  • Tax Collection
  • Water and Sewage

Although it looks like a tremendous oversight by the architects of our original constitution that local governments have such onerous funding responsibilities but very modest revenue tools at our disposal (property taxes, user fees, fines), one must keep in mind that only 20% of Canadians lived in urban areas in the 1800s and those cities were nothing like we see today.

Local governments must therefore do what we can to access resources from other levels of government to meet our responsibilities to our residents.

Ontario municipalities are fortunate inasmuch as AMO has a formal agreement with the provincial government to be ‘at the table’ when legislation impacting their respective mandates is proposed. Several years ago, AMO and the Province signed a Memorandum of Understanding securing this commitment. This commitment also extends to provincial negotiations with the federal government that could impact municipal services and finances.

A great example of how our involvement with AMO directly benefits Burlingtonians is the recent announcement by the Ontario government at the annual conference of improvements to disaster recovery assistance programs. The Burlington flood experience in 2014 has been the subject of many conversations between the Mayor’s office, city staff and the Ontario government which has responded with improvements to the delivery of disaster relief assistance.

As a result of interventions by Burlington and other cities, the new Municipal Disaster Recovery Assistance program will help municipalities address extraordinary emergency response costs and damage to essential property or infrastructure such as bridges, roads and public buildings as a result of a natural disaster. Going forward, municipalities will be given four months rather than 14 days to assess costs and request provincial assistance, so that they have time to focus on emergency response after a disaster occurs.

The Disaster Recovery Assistance program will provide faster assistance to individuals, small businesses, farmers and not-for-profit organizations that have experienced damage to, or loss of, essential property as a result of a natural disaster. The program will also do away with the current requirement for municipal volunteers to fundraise for matching provincial assistance.

The Province will launch the new programs in early 2016. Municipalities may continue to access the Ontario Disaster Relief Assistance Program until the new programs come into effect.

While at the AMO conference, I participated in a Q&A session with Labour Minister Kevin Flynn and Municipal Affairs and Housing Minister Ted McMeekin where Mayors and Regional Chairs put questions directly to the ministers on such topics as interest arbitration that imposes unbudgeted costs on local government for fire and police service; the proliferation of UBER; access to new revenue sources by local governments such as a land transfer tax and increased development charges so that less of the cost of development would be borne by individual taxpayers (this power already resides with the Toronto City Council but nowhere else).

Other topics addressed at the AMO conference include possible introduction of preferential balloting in local elections http://www.amo.on.ca/AMO-Content/Reports/2015/A-Ranked-Ballot-Primer.aspx, community hubs in schools http://www.amo.on.ca/AMO-Content/Policy-Updates/2015/Special-Advisor-Releases-Community-Hubs-Report.aspx, improved transportation, medical care and others.

Large Urban Caucus of AMO

I am honoured to have recently been appointed as Chair of the Large Urban Caucus of AMO for the next twelve months. This leadership role ensures that Burlington’s Mayor is at the centre of any discussion with the Ontario government on municipal issues.

Burlington Matters with Mayor Rick Goldring

Mayor Goldring films Episode 2 of Burlington Matters on the topic of environmental sustainability with the City's Senior Sustainability Coordinator Lynn Robichaud, Burlington Hydro CEO and President Gerry Smallegange and W5 Councillor Paul Sharman.

Mayor Goldring films Episode 2 of Burlington Matters on the topic of environmental sustainability with the City’s Senior Sustainability Coordinator Lynn Robichaud, Burlington Hydro CEO and President Gerry Smallegange and W5 Councillor Paul Sharman.

Please tune in as I lead a discussion with a panel of community leaders about current news and events in the city of Burlington on my new community television program, Burlington Matters with Mayor Rick Goldring.

The show airs Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m. and Sundays at 11:30 a.m. on TVCogeco Cable 23/HD Cable 700.

For more information or to suggest an episode topic, please email mayor@burlington.ca or call 905-335-7607.

Resilient Burlington

On August 4th, we marked the one year anniversary of the great flood that devasted the homes and property of thousands of Burlingtonians.

While there is not much that we can do about the weather, I have given my personal commitment to do all that I can as Mayor of Burlington to ensure that our community is as well prepared for such extreme weather events as circumstances will allow.

In a previous newsletter, I described the extensive review and recommendations that are being made at the local and regional levels to minimize flooding and damage to homes as a result of it.

Later this fall, I will be hosting a workshop of municipal government and insurance industry experts on overland flooding to exchange knowledge and learn about best practices in this field.

It is my intention to continue work with other municipalities, the provincial government and the insurance industry to facilitate the widespread availability and affordability of overland flood insurance to all homeowners. All stakeholders – including Burlington residents – will benefit from this exercise.

Freeman Station Restoration

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

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.

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.

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 stand while working on the wall to enclose the station agent’s office. Photo courtesy John Mellow

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.

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.

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

Nominations Open for Mayor’s Awards

I invite you to nominate someone you believe should be recognized with a Mayor’s Award in two categories.

Community Service Awards are designed to recognize and promote the social responsibility demonstrated by both for-profit and not-for-profit organizations.

The Sustainable Green Business Award is designed to recognize the green business practices demonstrated by a company.

Nominees will be considered on the basis of criteria that show how they contribute to Burlington’s quality of life, making Burlington a better place in which to live and work.

Nomination deadline is October 5, 2015.

For more information or to make a nomination, visit the Burlington Chamber of Commerce website at: http://www.burlingtonchamber.com/events/business-awards-gala.

Burlington Chamber of Commerce Political Forum and BBQ

Burlington City Manager James Ridge and I were on the hot seat at the recent Political Forum and BBQ hosted by the Burlington Chamber of Commerce. The discussion with Burlington’s business community included intensification and its impact on the downtown area and QEW corridor, alternate sources of revenue for the City of Burlington (such as higher development charges and land transfer taxes).

This type of interface with Burlington’s business sector is very helpful to the City in its deliberations and planning and I am grateful to Keith Hoey and the Chamber for staging the event.

Ontario Investing $25 Million in Cycling Infrastructure

As part of Ontario’s 20-year #CycleON strategy, the province is moving forward with a $25-million investment over three years to create a more cycling-friendly future for the province.

This includes $15 million for cycling routes that provide key connections and linkages on provincial highways, such as paved highway shoulders and barriers on bridges that separate cyclists from vehicles. Early proposals include:

  • Highway 33 west of Kingston (part of the Waterfront Trail)
  • Highway 137 structure over the 1000 Island Parkway (part of the Waterfront Trail)
  • Highway 6 on Manitoulin Island and south of Highway 17 at Espanola (part of the Georgian Bay Cycling Route)
  • Highway 17B and Highway 17 between Sault Ste. Marie and Espanola (part of the Lake Huron North Channel Cycling Route)

The province has also dedicated $10 million to the Ontario Municipal Cycling Infrastructure Program to help municipalities:

  • Expand their local cycling routes
  • Connect with provincial cycling routes
  • Launch pilot projects to make cycling improvements

Work is also underway to identify a province-wide network of cycling routes in collaboration with a broad range of cycling stakeholders.

Online Regional Trip Planner

Good news! Through a collaborative effort of GTHA transit organizations working with Metrolinx, a new online regional trip planner has launched and is now available as an app both on iPhone and Android devices.

Information is obtained through the Open Data feed of individual municipalities and will features real-time schedule information once Burlington and Oakville launch real-time schedules. To view, please visit www.triplinx.ca or click on the icon from our webpage www.burlingtontransit.ca.

Burlington Transit Announces Schedule Changes Starting Oct. 4

Starting Sunday, Oct. 4, Burlington Transit will adjust its schedules, affecting a number of routes, including routes serving Appleby GO station.

All bus routes at Appleby GO station will now use the newly expanded transit loop on the south side south of the station.

Other schedule changes are:

Routes 80, 81 and 83 will be moving to the south side of the Appleby GO station. All Burlington Transit bus routes will now connect on the same side of the station.

Routes 1 and 101 will be returning to their regularly scheduled route, which was temporarily adjusted in May 2015 for construction on Waterdown Road. This construction is now complete.

Routes 4, 15 and 20 have been adjusted to better align with recent changes to the GO Transit schedule.

Updated schedules for routes 5 and 21 in addition to some minor trip adjustments on routes 2, 3, 6, 10, 20 and 40 will be included. Schedules will be available starting in mid-September and in Burlington Transit’s Ride Guide by the end of September. Transit riders are advised to review changes that may affect their travel plans.

For more information about Burlington Transit, visit www.burlington.ca/transit.

Learn About and Test Drive Electric Vehicles Sept. 30

Residents are invited to attend a free, hands-on seminar called “Could Your Next Car Be Electric?” on Sept. 30 at Burlington Public Library’s Central Branch from 6:30 to 9 p.m.

There’s a growing buzz about electric and hybrid vehicles. We’ve recently installed two new charging stations in the downtown which complement other locations throughout the city. It’s always good to see positive change happening, especially when it applies to clean air and our environment.

The event will feature Ron Groves from Plug’n Drive, a non-profit organization that promotes the environmental and economic benefits of electric vehicles.  Attendees will have the opportunity to test-drive electric vehicles at the event provided by Plug’n Drive, as well as hear from a panel of electric vehicle owners about their own personal experiences.

The event is hosted in partnership with the City of Burlington, the Burlington Sustainable Development Committee, Plug’n Drive and Burlington Public Library.

Anyone wanting to participate is asked to register by calling 905-639-3611, ext. 1321, or by emailing environment@burlington.ca.

Wetland Conservation in Ontario

The Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry recently posted Wetland Conservation in Ontario: A Discussion Paper on Ontario’s Environmental Registry. http://www.ebr.gov.on.ca/ERS-WEB-External/displaynoticecontent.do?noticeId=MTI1MzM3&statusId=MTg4ODE3&language=en

The purpose of this paper is to seek input on challenges, opportunities, ideas and actions related to wetland conservation in Ontario with a view to developing a Strategic Plan for Ontario’s Wetlands.

The Strategic Plan will identify a provincial vision, goals and objectives, as well as set out a series of actions that the Ontario government will undertake over the next 15 years to improve wetland conservation across the province.

The public review and comment period for Wetland Conservation in Ontario: A Discussion Paper extends until October 30, 2015.

For more information, email ConservingWetlands@ontario.ca.

Culture Days 2015

Burlington is participating in Culture Days on Sept. 25, 26 and 27, with free activities planned across the city, including Doors Open Burlington on Saturday, Sept. 26.

Culture Days is a united effort by many independent Burlington artists, Doors Open Burlington, the Art Gallery of Burlington, the Burlington Performing Arts Centre, Burlington Public Library, Museums of Burlington, and Tourism Burlington.

“After the success of Burlington Culture Days in 2014, local creative organizations, venues, professionals and businesses are again hosting events during the sixth annual Culture Days weekend,” said Angela Paparizo, City of Burlington manager of arts and culture. “We have some new additions this year, including a Grand Finale at the Burlington Performing Arts Centre with many unique opportunities for residents to immerse themselves in culture.”

Burlington Student Theatre will present Burlywood in City Hall’s Civic Square on Saturday, Sept. 26 from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. The family-friendly event will feature local dancers, actors, musicians and photographers. In case of rain, Burlywood will move the Burlington Performing Arts Centre lobby.

On Sunday, Sept. 27, Burlington Resounds will wrap up Culture Days. The Grand Finale will showcase local performers at The Burlington Performing Arts Centre. Celebrations start at noon and wrap up at 6 p.m.

In addition to performances and art exhibits, Symphony on the Bay is offering residents the chance to be a ‘Conductor for the Moment’. Residents who would like the chance to conduct a full orchestra on a concert stage should contact Adam Belovari at adam.belovari@burlington.ca .

Visit www.burlington.ca/culturedays for a complete Burlington Culture Days program listing.

Organizers are looking for volunteers. Email angela.paparizo@burlington.ca or connect with Doors Open Burlington to sign up as a volunteer. No registration is required for Culture Days or Doors Open events.

Culture Days is a non-profit organization dedicated to building a national network of cultural connections devoted to providing Canadians with opportunities to participate in, and appreciate, all forms of art and culture.

The sixth annual Culture Days weekend takes place Sept. 25, 26 and 27, 2015, and will promote free, hands-on, interactive activities that invite the public to participate behind-the-scenes to discover the world of artists, creators, historians, architects, curators, designers and other creative people in Burlington.

For more information about Culture Days in Burlington, visit www.burlington.ca/culturedays, email angela.paparizo@burlington.ca or call 905-335-7600 ext. 7352.

Driver Safety for Older Adults

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Take Action Burlington – November 3, 2015

15-345-MO Take Action Burlington Mayors Ad (2)

My Inspire Burlington Series and the City of Burlington presents Take Action Burlington on Tuesday, November 3 from 6-9 p.m. at the Royal Botanical Gardens, 680 Plains Road West.

This is a free community event focused on the message that we need to do what we can as individuals, businesspeople and community leaders to continue to work towards reducing our carbon footprint.

The evening will feature keynote speaker David Miller. Mr. Miller is the CEO and president of WWF-Canada. He was Mayor of Toronto from 2003 to 2010 and Chair of the influential C40 Cities Climate Leadership Group from 2008 to 2010.

I will also give a presentation on the many green projects and initiatives at the City of Burlington.

The event includes interactive displays by green-minded community groups and initiatives.

To reserve a seat, please contact my office at mayor@burlington.ca or by calling 905-335-7607.

Please mark your calendars and consider taking alternative transportation to this event. The Royal Botanical Gardens has a bike rack and is serviced by Burlington Transit.

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