Wednesday, December 16, 2009


They were spending like the proverbial drunken sailor on the good ship Burlington Monday past.

Sixty million loonies for the hospital.

More money – perhaps $9 million – for the former General Brock school property.

Pan Am commitments toward City Park near Waterdown which will, history tells us, be way over cost estimates as is the norm with multi-event games.

But like that sailor our self-professed parsimonious pols were in seventh heaven over their spending spree or so it appeared to this channel surfing blogger who had earlier succumbed to too many Christmas specials and Tiger updates.

Councillor D’Amelio patiently explained to observers and your obviously misinformed correspondent that the media has it wrong because the big projects almost always come in under budget.

That and the season undoubtedly account for all the happiness and comes as a great relief as I had worried that nobody knew where all the money to pay for these projects would be found.


Taking the Sherwood Park location off the table means the Games site is narrowed down to one option - which is really no option, isn’t it?

City Park’s development needs approval from the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC) who have designated the land for recreation uses and facilities.

The NEC Plan assumes that any development will have “minimal adverse effect on the environment” and “not exceed the carrying capacity of the site.”

So as I mentioned everyone was so happy with the site and excited about all the money to be spent on this and other projects. You’d have to be a real pessimist to imagine that approval for a stadium, two lit artificial turf fields, one additional field, and lots of bells and whistles adjacent to a Natural Environment area, an Area of Natural and Scientific Interest (ANSI) and 3,000 homes won’t be all wrapped up before the Seaway closes for the season.

Tuesday, December 08, 2009

Doing the Math

While the Pan Am Games numbers didn’t compute for this blogger another “math’ exercise I participated in did add up.

Well, not really.

On November 18th a mixed group of 14 Burlington residents and service providers did some math at a breakfast meeting held at Community Development Halton.
Toronto’s The Stop Community Food Centre and the Campaign to Put Food in the Budget created this web based budget tool to promote understanding of poverty issues. Do the Math poses a simple question:

Does a single person on social assistance receive enough income to live with health and dignity?

A survey allows you to determine what you would need to make ends meet and to compare your results to what a single person on social assistance receives each month.

How often does one need a haircut? Dental care might not be a priority. But can you find a job with bad teeth? Do I really need that large double, double at $1.72?

These are but a few of the questions/issues the group considered.

When they added it was determined that it would cost $1,742 a month for a single person to get by with a bachelor apartment in Burlington.

Compare that to the maximum amount of:

*$572 per month a single Ontario Works recipient gets.
*1,020 a single individual on the Ontario Disability Support Program (ODSP) would receive.

Or consider the fact that a full- time minimum wage earner would have only $1429 in before tax income.

One participant noted that the gap was “astronomical.” Another questioned the sense of social assistance policies if the rates established clearly aren’t doing any good.
Over 3,000 people around the province have signed the online petition or a postcard that calls for government to ‘do the math’ too, and overhaul the system that sets rates, as well as for an immediate increase of $100 as a first step to meet basic needs. About half of provincial Members of Parliament have been involved in this project to date.

At long last the provincial government is beginning a promised review of social assistance. Hopefully, changes are on the way.

Sunday, December 06, 2009


City staff are recommending that a site at Highway #5 and Kerns Road known as
City Park be approved as the venue for the Pan Am Games soccer matches. Seven games in the preliminary round plus some contests in the Parapan Games following later in August 2015 would be held here.

We visited the site today.

The Community and Corporate Services Committee is considering the recommendation this Wednesday. Earlier this year it seemed like a good idea to have it at Sherwood Park in southeast Burlington. Then the neighbours got wind of the 1,500 permanent seat stadium and Councillors figured another location closer to where nobody lived – well nobody from Burlington anyway - would be a better idea.

There are issues. Here’s one:

The lands are under the jurisdiction of the Niagara Escarpment Commission (NEC). I’m thinking the NEC plan didn’t anticipate international games with three soccer fields, one a permanent stadium with an artificial surface with lighting would be locating here.

Not to worry says Burlington staff. Their timetable anticipates approval in principle from the NEC this month – an interesting trick as the Commission isn’t meeting in December. But approval is required before year end or we’re going to look like we didn’t think this one through real well..

I’m struggling with the budget. Does $30 million sound like a lot of taxpayer money when many in our community are struggling?