What’s for breakfast?

Windmill

Not much of a morning person – but I do love breakfast!

In particular, I enjoy the experience of a neighbourhood gathering spot. Where the meal is simple, the value is high, and most people are regulars.

And there are a lot of conversations going on. In fact, if City Hall really wants to be “engaging people on issues that affect their lives” (as stated in Burlington’s Engagement Charter approved earlier this year), pull up a seat. Let’s chat.

Burlington has many restaurants fitting this profile. Russell Williams, Mount Royal, Harvest Table, JC’s Bagels and others top that list. Each offers charm and/or character.

True, there are fancier and newer establishments/franchises – including Cora’s, Sunset Grill, Wimpey’s and Symposium – all of which are fine. But none are truly local diners (or to use the less-than-flattering term, ‘greasy spoons’).

My favourite may be the smallest: Windmill. Every table is a booth, food always arrives hot, and service is exemplary. In Ward 4, Harvest Table is my usual choice.

Fortunately, Burlington has a healthy appetite for breakfast places of all kinds – where you can have a meal, and find community.

Promises, Promises

rick goldring for mayor 2010

During the 2010 municipal election, a lot of big promises were made. That’s not a shocker.

But what about fulfilling those promises?

As for Burlington – former Ward 5 Councillor and current Mayor Rick Goldring told the Toronto Star: “I’m running to bring respect and trust back to council and to re-establish a community vision”. Has that happened?

Our Mayor chose hard-to-measure outcomes. Nevertheless, I believe his collaborative style and straightforward manner have been ideal. His leadership has created a much higher degree of respect and trust. However, the vision part remains murky.

As for Ward 4 – our Councillor Jack Dennison advised the Burlington Post that one of his priorities would be the reconstruction of Lakeshore Road, calling it “an accident waiting to happen”. He pledged to find a long-term plan.

Widening for on-road bike lanes was part of his initial solution. That later became more about re-marking than re-constructing. As well, the main emphasis seemed to shift away from greater safety to healthier living. See “Lakeshore Road” in both of these links:

http://cms.burlington.ca/Page6866.aspx?DateTime=634353984000000000&PageMode=View

http://cms.burlington.ca/Page10049.aspx?DateTime=634945565400000000&PageMode=View

Residents expressed strong opposition. Their voices and efforts eventually changed the Mayor’s mind and vote – but not their Councillor’s. His initiative was voted down by Council in 2013 as a pilot project.

Our Mayor is on the right track.

Our Councillor needs to get back on track with Ward 4 residents, before championing another plan to fulfill a key 2010 commitment to voters. Time is running out with the 2014 election fast approaching, and the promise of more big promises.

Burlington the Good – and Giving

Chilly Half Group Photo Aug 2013

Do you realize just how much the health and well-being of our community depends on volunteers and donors?

Here’s a case in point.

Earlier this week, I attended the announcement of a new title sponsor for Burlington’s Chilly Half Marathon (that’s me on the far left, with our MPP and Mayor). My part was to speak on behalf of the event’s beneficiary, the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation.

The Chilly Half started in 1995. Since 2010, it has raised nearly $100,000 for the hospital.

That’s an incredible history of dedication and generosity while, quite literally, getting people moving to support worthy causes. Led by organizers Kelly and Mark Arnott, the Chilly Half represents a herculean combined effort of sponsors, donors, participants and volunteers.

Now, think of the seemingly endless list of other local events, festivals, fundraisers and volunteer-based organizations of all shapes and sizes. Did you know, for example, the hospital has over 600 volunteers, and the Sound of Music Festival engages over 800?!

It’s important to pause to appreciate and applaud Burlington’s culture of giving. While our needs are always increasing, we thrive by striving to meet them.

On the waterfront

Waterfront Trail sign

Burlington is very fortunate to enjoy a beautiful, accessible and long waterfront.

The entire Waterfront Trail system spans 740 kilometres in length, from Niagara-on-the-Lake in the west to Brockville in the east. Our part comprises 23 kilometres.

Did you know there are 8 public parks along Burlington’s Waterfront Trail?

That impressive number includes Ward 4’s Port Nelson Park, Sioux Lookout Park (where this photo was taken) and Paletta Lakefront Park.

Ria and I were married in Paletta, so it’s my personal favorite. However, I increasingly find myself drawn to Sioux Lookout. It’s usually quiet and always calming to sit on a bench there – with Lake Ontario stretching out in front of you, as far as the eye can see.

A momentary oasis to relax by, and reflect on life and living. I might even come up with the subject for my next blog.

Troubling times

There’s increasing speculation and concern about our Ward 4 Councillor – which, in fairness, might be calmed if people heard from him.  Much fairer to both him and us.

http://burlingtongazette.ca/dennison-omb-hearing-moved-back-to-2014-why-the-delay/

Public servants are also private citizens.  However, when those worlds collide, it’s prudent to communicate and act in a clear, responsible and timely manner.  The court of public opinion can render harsh judgments, particularly when limited information is available.

In this case, too many questions are being raised, including about personal interests running contrary to Ward 4 constituents and City Hall.      

This isn’t our Councillor’s first public experience with the optics of private matters.

http://www.insidehalton.com/news-story/2962933-dennison-s-business-owes-335-k-in-taxes/

At that time, he stepped forward to defend himself with unapologetic candour. That approach didn’t prevent his re-election (the real issue wasn’t if he could do it as a business owner, but if he should do it as a community leader and elected city official).     

Hopefully, at some point soon, our Councillor will explain the current situation from his perspective, and leave no doubt about his commitment.

Gaining perspective

Image

General Brock (Gary Allan) Lands

Why protect our green spaces and trees in Burlington?

For a compelling view and example, see the above aerial shot of the General Brock parkland in Ward 4. New Street is above the highlighted area, with Spruce Avenue below it and Pine Cove Road to the right/east.

Now, imagine those same lush open lands as a busy subdivision full of people, concrete and cars. With few mature trees.

That’s a major reason why.

Are you ready for 2014?

Burlington is changing.

With change, we must be mindful about our quality of life – and which direction it’s headed. That means paying more attention to who’s holding the compass.

Did you know that City Council is 7 individuals representing over 175,000 people?

Compassionate, diverse and dynamic leadership is vital for such a small group to govern Burlington today. It’s even more critical to shaping where we’re going tomorrow.

Wider experience and fresh energy are needed around Council’s table.

Now, more than ever, it’s imperative to carefully assess and choose the decision-makers.

The next municipal election is OCTOBER 27, 2014.

Let’s get informed about the candidates, their visions, the issues – then get out and vote!