Is Dennison out of bounds?

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison is trying to swing another real estate deal.

This time, it’s with his fellow Council members, and it’s all about YOUR property.

While he’s hit and missed with them in the past, that may change soon.

burlington council 2014-2018

To be clear, this is not about Councillor Dennison battling neighbours to capitalize on his own Lakeshore Road property in Ward 4 (as you may recall, the Committee of Adjustments denied him a severance, and he appealed that decision to the OMB).

His focus is now on lands owned by the City in Ward 1. Tyandaga Golf Course.

tyandaga

Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven’s email newsletter today included this commentary….

“Councillor Jack Dennison is continuing his effort to sell land from the golf course to developers.

During recent budget discussions he put forward a motion that Council “review our Tyandaga asset as part of our strategic plan”. I objected to the motion as being “out of order” and the Chair ruled in favour of the Point of order.

Undoubtedly Councillor Dennison will now pursue this subject during the upcoming “Strategic Plan” discussions. I will keep you advised.”

Craven didn’t connect the dots for readers – but his email included another topical item, with potentially huge implications for the golf course and Burlington….

“My office has received a lot of calls about the large open space, recently put up for sale, west of Brant Street and south of Havendale. This land is currently owned by the Roman Catholic Diocese. Developers are also making inquiries.

So far, there is nothing official, no applications and no news, but I will certainly keep you advised if anything changes.”

How do these pieces connect?

Well, a picture tells that story best. Click on this photo to see where the golf course and Brant Street property are located….

golf course and brant street property

Seems a long time ago that Councillor Dennison championed the preservation of local green space, by helping save the General Brock parkland . That cause was certainly worth fighting for in Ward 4 (although the war isn’t over yet, but that’s for another post).

https://brianheagle.wordpress.com/2013/07/15/gaining-perspective/?preview=true&preview_id=128&preview_nonce=fe2efa9c9e&post_format=image

Of course, a sale of golf course lands will generate a lot of green for the City’s coffers, in the short and long term (municipal golf has been a money-draining “asset” for the City over the course – that’s the last pun – of its 50+ years).

Beyond the sale price, add an enormous windfall of development charges, plus an expanded residential tax base (e.g. perhaps 150+ homes depending on the property sold and related conditions). And the area would still be covered mostly by gorgeous parkland.

Hopefully, citizens appreciate the need to speak up now about this kind of contentious issue, whether you’re fore (couldn’t resist) or against it.

In this case, the fate of Tyandaga Golf Course may significantly inform and influence the direction of our new Strategic Plan – if Craven’s emailed expectations about Dennison come true. Council’s final approval is set for July 2015….

http://www.burlington.ca/en/services-for-you/Strategic-Plan.asp

burlington strat plan 2015-18

So, if a possible sale of golf course lands is considered as part of a larger context for Burlington’s future, here’s my question to YOU….

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Looking Ahead

2015 crystal ball

Time to make some bold (well, boldish) predictions for Burlington.

Here’s my TOP-4 list of WHO and WHAT to watch locally in 2015….

#1 – MANAGING A BUMPY ROAD

big question mark

Council remains constant, but other leadership positions remain in constant flux.

You’ve needed a program to keep track of many top jobs at City Hall.

For example: since 2010, there’s been 3 City Managers (as shown below – can you identify more than one?) plus 1 to follow, and 2 Chiefs of Staff plus 1 to follow! Ouch.

Of all the people in Burlington to watch in 2015, my pick is the next City Manager. That person will play a pivotal role in what happens, and how things move forward at City Hall during this critical time in our city’s history.

In addition to other qualities he/she brings to the corridors of power there, let’s hope he/she works productively with Council – and stays for at least one or two terms of Council, especially with a new Strategic Plan coming soon.

Watch for other new staff appointments, terminations/retirements and resignations.

#2 – ROUND 2 WITH WARD 2 COUNCILLOR

marianne meed ward

While Mayor Rick Goldring should be the centre of attention on Council, Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward will increasingly steal that spotlight.

Meed Ward has always been an excellent communicator, and she’s also a seasoned politician now. She’ll keep stirring Council’s pot vigorously and regularly, especially when her Ward constituents want something (and perhaps to attract more voters for an already much-anticipated mayoral bid in 2018).

However, the main event causing sparks at City Hall will probably continue to be friction between her and Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven (and others tag-teaming with him).

Catch all the action in person, tune in TVCogeco or check out the City’s webcasts. Body language says so much.

Unlike the relative calm of previous Goldring years, and unless Meed Ward can become less adversarial and more mayoral in nature, 2015 seems likely to be filled with more divisive public posturings and positionings.

For the sake of Burlington and Council, I sure hope that prediction is proven wrong.

#3 – SINGING THE BLUES, OR SEEING RED

mike wallace endorsement of next pc leader

After 70+ consecutive years as a Tory stronghold, we elected a Liberal MPP in 2014!

Who could have predicted that for Burlington?

In truth, a lot of people – particularly those who noticed local Liberal candidates nudging closer and closer to victory in recent elections.

Having said that, will voters elect a Liberal MP in 2015? Will our city catch the wave of a new kind of Trudeaumania with a young local candidate, Karina Gould, full of new energy and big ambition (with meetings in local pubs and other community hubs)?

Nope. Not this time anyway.

MP Mike Wallace is savvy, organized and determined.

Burlington is changing, as reflected by the 2014 provincial election. However, that sudden and surprising change seems to have helped the entire Council get re-elected in the ensuing 2014 municipal election. Voters chose stability and experience.

And that will also be a factor for likeable Mike in the 2015 federal election.

#4 – PIER-LESS

pier in action

For my final choice, I could have predicted Burlington surging with unprecedented pride and support for the new Joseph Brant Hospital – or even said the Burlington Gazette will continue to be exposed as Pepper Parr’s pulpit for his personal political preferences (I might have said it, just not easily or without spitting!).

Either would have been an easy choice. Too easy.

Instead, I’ve gone with the ill-fated and much-lambasted Pier.

Yes, it went millions and millions of dollars over budget as a legacy/vanity piece (with little function or purpose, beyond being a tourist attraction and pleasant walk), and turned up the volume on public engagement (a positive outcome). Those days are over.

Here’s my boldest prediction: no one will say a disparaging word in public about the Pier in 2015.

Of course, there may be some revelation about the final legal costs. People might still refer to it as a tragic historical footnote of incredible political hubris and, just maybe, someone will mention the high maintainance costs going forward. But that’s it.

Silence will signal Burlington has learned some lessons, and turned the page.

This should help all of us start to write new chapters for our community, by focussing better on what really matters now:

*** aging infrastructure (which involves many inter-connected concerns)
*** aging population (with the related issues of health care, poverty and affordability)
*** worrisome intensification trends (primarily by the waterfront, and the impact on the character of older neighbourhoods)
*** lacklustre economic development (a now-revamped BEDC should make rumblings in 2015, and get tangible returns on that investment in 2016)

Okay, there you have it for 2015.

New City Manager. Councillor Meed Ward. MP Mike Wallace. The Pier.

Who or what is on your TOP-4 list?

p.s. Since I’ve raised a few opinions here related to political parties, and in order to offer full disclosure, please see the second half of the following post about my own partisan leanings….https://brianheagle.wordpress.com/2014/06/13/yesterday/

All in the details

Why is this man smiling?

jack d oct 2014

That’s the look of a decisive victory for Jack Dennison!

The Ward 4 race in this municipal election, like everywhere else in Burlington, was won by the incumbent – and by a significant margin.

Click on the following link for a PRECISE BREAKDOWN OF VOTING in Ward 4….

http://cms.burlington.ca/AssetFactory.aspx?did=32468

The numbers reveal that our current/future Councillor won handily at every poll.

What was the most curious result, and perhaps the most telling?

He had a solid 52% of the votes cast at the two polls with the greatest number of eligible voters – Port Nelson (Roseland) and John T. Tuck (Roseland Heights). Why is that somewhat surprising? After all, he lives in the area.

Well, you may have heard that many of his neighbours are very upset with his Ontario Municipal Board appeal to sever his own lot (as reflected by the strong opposition mounted by the Roseland Community Organization).

He pushed back hard against their wishes, and the City staff’s recommendation. Yet that factor did not fan the flame of an ‘anti-Jack’ wind during this election.

jack d property

In fact, Roseland residents didn’t get out to vote much (30% voter turnout) – compared to the entire City (34%) or even the top polls in Ward 4 (35-38%).

Was it complacency, apathy, fatigue or inevitability (a sense that Jack was assured another 4 years)? Something else?

As you look northward in Ward 4, the power of this incumbent was evident. He received well over 60% of the votes at those polls.

Simply put, after 20 years in office, the Jack Juggernaut rolls on for another term!

His experienced leadership should continue to deliver beneficial results overall for our community. True, like other politicians, our Councillor has attracted his share of public controversy and criticism.

However, he’s always responded to critics with unapologetic candour, a rare quality for politicians. And while you may not like his style, nor agree with all of his decisions, Jack Dennison has worked diligently to represent Ward 4 and Burlington well for two decades – especially in terms of trying to protect the financial bottomline for taxpayers.

We should expect more of the same, which may best explain his re-election.

Okay, now that the election smoke (and hot air) is clearing, what lies ahead?

I set out my views in a recent article in B CITY MAGAZINE (starting at page 37)….

Did you happen to catch this week’s #TheIssue show on TVCogeco (see below for our broadcast team’s “selfie” taken on election nite), which airs every Tuesday nite live at 8 PM? Yes, that was a shameless promotion.

cogeco election team oct 27 2014

I also expressed the view this Council may suffer from a serious malady – VISION DEFICIT.

If you don’t have a clear target in your sights, how can you take intentional steps towards hitting it? Vision is not about nice platitudes or blurry generalizations!

It’s all about seeing the details.

More about VISION DEFICIT, and the need for Council to focus better, in a future blog post. In the meantime, let’s wake up after a sleepy election. Let’s open our eyes wide.

Even WIDER than that, please!

eye wide open

Stay vigilant and get more engaged over the next 4 years – a critical period for bigger, longer-term decisions at City Hall. As a community, we need to keep a watchful eye on what’s going on, and speak up about where Burlington is headed.

One week left…are you ready?

We’ve all had it. That dream about sitting down for a big exam – and suddenly realizing we forgot to study!

Let’s hope it’s NOT the reality for Burlington voters on Monday, October 27th.

That’s when you and others cast the final ballots in this municipal election (unless you already voted online, or at an advance poll).

***Spoiler Alert #1: Here comes a shameless self-promotion.

If you’re tempted to doze off now, and perhaps not even bother to vote, I wrote an article which should jolt your system.

b city article

The above is the final proof for my contribution to B CITY MAGAZINE. The Fall 2014 edition comes out this week in select homes and businesses. Copies can also be picked up at Tourism Burlington at 414 Locust Street (downtown near Lakeshore Road).

***Spoiler Alert #2: Here come our community’s top priorities explained in that article.

Burlington is changing. You can question many things, but not that.

We need to decide, right now, what matters most to us. Based on that list, what does our collective vision of the future look like? 2014 is an absolutely critical election to choose the leadership team at City Hall aligned with that vision.

What lies ahead?

Most people would not consider our biggest issues to be, in a word, ‘sexy’ or ‘provocative’. We’re not talking about building more legacy pieces like a pier, hospital, performing arts centre or giant steel orchids. Nor is this is about contemplating a larger Council, new Wards or moving City Hall (not bad ideas, mind you).

giant orchids on upper middle

It’s a handful, though, in many ways. My top-5 list:

1. Economic development
2. Intensification
3. Aging population
4. Aging infrastructure
5. Affordability

What’s on your list?

My top-5 items are inter-connected and urgent, especially since they’ve received scant attention. So far. Time is running out, and the countdown is on. Let’s get Burlington’s priorities, and future, on the right track.

See my article in B CITY MAGAZINE for more!

Otherwise, if you need a last-week/minute primer, click on these helpful links….

Burlington Council = http://www.insidehalton.com/news-story/4731525-burlington-votes-meet-your-burlington-city-council-candidates/

Halton Regional Chair = http://www.theifp.ca/news/municipal-election-2014-regional-chair-candidates-answer/

HDSB Trustees = http://www.insidehalton.com/news-story/4895997-burlington-votes-meet-your-burlington-candidates-for-the-halton-district-school-board/

HCDSB Trustees = http://www.insidehalton.com/news-story/4896161-burlington-votes-meet-your-burlington-candidates-for-the-halton-catholic-district-school-board/

And, finally, closer to home for your research: the campaign websites set up by our Ward 4 Councillor candidates….

Carol Gottlob
http://www.carolgottlob.ca/

Jack Dennison
http://www.jackdennison.ca/

Doug Wilcox
http://votewilcox.ca/

Please, take a good look at all of the candidates, and choose wisely.

Burlington’s future depends on your vote.

Hear ye! Hear ye!

Tuesday, October 7 at 7 PM. Save the date now!

That’s when there’s a debate going on in Ward 4 – Paletta Mansion at 4250 Lakeshore Road (between Walkers and Appleby).

All of the candidates for MAYOR and WARD 4 COUNCILLOR will be there!

Will you?

debate audience

All-candidate meetings are rare opportunities to see candidates come together in one place to discuss and debate local issues before a public audience.

For them, it’s about reinforcing key messages and positions on many neighbourhood, city and regional issues.

For us, it’s about asking questions, listening to answers – and getting better informed before voting.

This special event is co-hosted by the Roseland Community Organization (RCO) and Roseland Heights Community Organization (RHCO).

And there is absolutely no cost to the public.

There will be a donation box for the ongoing and vitally important efforts of Burlington Flood Relief, if you’re able and so inclined to give.

burlington flood relief 2014
http://www.burlingtonfoundation.org/Burlington-Flood-Relief-Home

Don Baxter of the RCO, and yours truly on behalf of the RHCO, visited the venue today in preparation for next Tuesday nite.

Below is your advance look at the room, showing the moderator’s podium and the main tables set up for the panelists and candidates (that’s Don checking out a chair).

paletta preparations

Here’s the format….

6:30
– Doors Open.

7:00
– Meeting begins.

One moderator (Maureen Tilson-Dyment).
Three panelists (Tina Depko-Denver of the Burlington Post; Joan Little of the Hamilton Spectator; Pepper Parr of the Burlington Gazette).

7:00 to 7:30
– Opening statements from three Mayoral and three Ward 4 Councillor candidates (maximum 3 minutes each).

7:30 to 8:30
– Discussions and debates.

4 sessions of 15 minutes each, alternating between Mayoral and Ward 4 Councillor candidates (first 15 minutes of questions from panelists directed to candidates for Mayor; next 15 minutes for Ward 4 Councillor candidates; and so on).

8:30
– “Fishbowl” questions.

The moderator will randomly draw from a “fishbowl” of questions from the public (before the meeting, by posting a comment here or emailing bheagle@fdhlawyers.com; or during the meeting, by bringing a written question or submitting one at that time).

9:00
– Meeting ends.

paletta park debate location

To help you get ready, here’s some homework.

The candidates and their websites (if any)….

*** BURLINGTON MAYOR ***
mayoral debate 2014

Anne Marsden (no campaign website)

Peter Rusin
http://rusinformayor.com/

Rick Goldring
http://www.rickgoldring.ca/

*** WARD 4 COUNCILLOR ***

Doug Wilcox
http://votewilcox.ca/

Jack Dennison
http://www.jackdennison.ca/

Carol Gottlob
http://www.carolgottlob.ca/

HOPE TO SEE YOU THERE NEXT TUESDAY NITE!!

Fast and furious at City Hall

clock at 2 o'clock

Friday, September 12, 2014 at 2 PM.

That’s the final deadline for municipal candidates to officially enter or withdraw.

And the race to the starting line is a sprint now!

Suddenly, the Burlington mayoral race has 3 registered candidates in less than 24 hours – less surprisingly, Ward 4 has yet another change for the Councillor’s job!

Here’s the (current) line-up for mayor….

Incumbent RICK GOLDRING will be challenged by newcomer PETER RUSIN and perennial candidate ANNE MARSDEN. She’s put her name in for Regional Chair, Mayor (registered then withdrew in 2010), Ward 2 Councillor, and MPP.

Only Rick Goldring has a website – which might indicate how unprepared the other two hopefuls are for a short campaign. When I briefly met with our current Mayor today, it’s clear that he’s ready to roll with his team.

As for Ward 4, there’s 1 new entry with newcomer DOUG WILCOX, and a renewed vote-splitting factor. That will favour incumbent JACK DENNISON, and should concern the other newcomer CAROL GOTTLOB.

Doug Wilcox lives outside the Ward, which is permitted, but nothing else is provided by his registration today (no website or photo), nor by a cursory Internet search.

Let’s hope Mr. Wilcox introduces himself and his ideas to Ward 4 voters soon, and isn’t just taking up space on the ballot.

Who said municipal politics is dull? Not that you’ll want to camp out at City Hall to see who else registers.

Tomorrow may bring more breaking news, as the clock ticks much closer and louder towards 2 PM….

What’s it going to be, Burlington?

NONE OF THE ABOVE. Seriously?

That option has surged into the lead in my recent poll (53.85% at the time of this post).

Admittedly, the poll is highly unscientific and unreliable. What political poll isn’t?

But does it reflect some indication of frustration with the choices in Ward 4? Or, maybe, voter fatigue? Apathy?

This Friday is the last day to register or withdraw as a candidate. And there’s a race in every Ward for City Council.

In fact, there are 10 candidates in Ward 6!! Councillor Blair Lancaster must be wondering what all the fuss is about (as a reminder, she only won by 125 votes in 2010).

I’ll leave Ward 4 and other predictions until next month. However, I wish to officially call this election result now….

RICK GOLDRING WILL BE THE NEXT MAYOR OF BURLINGTON

You read it here first.

goldring clan celebrates heagle prediction

Okay, subject to a last-minute shocker, there’s no race to unseat the current Mayor.

*** UPDATE: The day after posting this blog, PETER RUSIN registered to run for mayor. My prediction stands.

In the past, if a mayor has been acclaimed in Burlington, it’s meant a lot. That is, a lot less people vote.

1976 = 59.4% – Mayor’s race (Mary Munro wins)
1978 = 28.1% – Mayor’s race (Roly Bird wins)
1982 = 33.0% – Mayor (Bird wins)
1985 = 20.0% – MAYOR ACCLAIMED (Bird)
1988 = 28.1% – Mayor’s race (Bird wins for 4th straight term!)
1991 = 37.2% – Mayor’s race (Walter Mulkewich wins)
1994 = 35.3% – Mayor’s race (Mulkewich wins)
1997 = 34.9% – Mayor’s race (Rob MacIsaac wins)
2000 = 22.7% – MAYOR ACCLAIMED (MacIsaac)
2003 = 16.6% – MAYOR ACCLAIMED (MacIsaac)
2006 = 34.8% – Mayor’s race (Cam Jackson wins)
2010 = 37.6% – Mayor’s race (Rick Goldring wins)
2014 = ____% – MAYOR ACCLAIMED (Goldring)

When the Mayor is acclaimed, voter turnout is less than 20%.

Average voter turnout is underwhelming anyway – barely over 32% for all general elections in the past 40 years.

That’s an abysmal and shameful record. We can do better. We should do better.

Here’s my question to you, Burlington. What’s it going to be in 2014?