The city is focused on the wrong things — overintensification and New Street bike lanes. We need to focus on the things you care about: community amenities that benefit families, young adults and seniors, parks and green space, flood mitigation, better traffic flow, and jobs.
Issues and Solutions
Our city is about to change, and not for the better, with pressures of congestion and overintensification in the Official Plan, and parks community amenities and infrastructure that can’t keep up. Burlington is Everyone’s City, but your input is too often ignored. We can change that together.
We can meet the challenges ahead through unflinching, grassroots leadership and a strong voice for our community as mayor. I’m ready to roll up my sleeves and work with you to get action for a better Burlington. Below you’ll find 59 proposed actions under three themes:
- End vertical sprawl and build community by everyone, for everyone: (46) covering development, greenspace, affordable housing, community amenities, transit, transportation, farm support, job attraction and flooding
- Provide unflinching leadership that restores civility and puts residents first (10)
- Refocus spending on your priorities (3)
Find out what we’ve already achieved together by clicking “Can she get anything done.” Yes, we can, we have and we will!
End Vertical Sprawl, Build Community, by Everyone, for Everyone
DEVELOPMENT/OFFICIAL PLAN: The city's focus on quantity of people over quality of life is leading to vertical sprawl and congestion. I support measured development downtown and at GO stations, and will honour the commitment made to protect neighbourhoods from overintensification. I'll also press for strong city action if applications are appealed.
- protect low density neighbourhoods from inappropriate intensification (as promised when the new Official Plan discussion began) by amending the OP to remove townhouses from low density neighbourhoods (permitted everywhere except in the two character areas: Roseland and Indian Point, which also don’t allow semis). The current mayor voted for this type of intensification in established neighbourhoods.
- protect the Aldershot neighbourhoods of Queen Mary and Clearview from overintensification by moving the Mobility Hub boundary to exclude this area. The current mayor voted against moving the boundary.
- ensure a buttoned-down legal game plan and full-throated support for our exisiting Official Plan if development applications are appealed, to secure more wins like Oakville has gotten. We need to focus on great development, and go to bat for it, rather than adopt the watered-down and oft-repeated speculative position of mere “defensibility.” We must make our case, not merely settle.
- protect the charm and character of downtown from overintensification and unlivable congestion by amending the new OP to retain existing lower heights. We can meet provincial growth targets under our existing OP. The new Plan (supported by the current mayor) calls for up to 30 high rise towers in the downtown.
- work with the province and Halton Region to remove the Urban Growth Centre and Mobility Hub designations from the downtown. The current mayor rejected a motion to remove these.
- change the Urban Growth Centre boundaries downtown to exclude stable neighbourhood areas in St. Luke’s/Emerald.
- initiate character area studies in St. Luke’s/Emerald neighbourhoods, as requested by the community; and other neighbourhoods that request one. The current mayor voted against a request for a character area study in St. Luke’s.
PARKS/GREENSPACE/WATERFRONT: With higher density developments, we need more urban greenspace, trees and public waterfront lands. I support a tree planting program, greater investment in parks, keeping and acquiring more waterfront land, and setting parkland/walk distance targets. We measure what we treasure.
- During review of the Parks Master Plan in the next term of council, look at setting targets for parkland per 1000 residents, and walk distances (council unanimously supported my motion on this)
- During review of the Urban Forest Master Plan, set a tree canopy target (as other municipalities have)
- Establish an active tree planting program, in partnership with businesses, residents, schools and other institutions.
- Instead of taking cash in lieu of parkland on new developments (the current practise), take parkland wherever possible.
- Improve the Windows to the Lake at the street end of Walkers Line.
- Retain public waterfront lands in public hands; the current mayor voted to sell public waterfront to private interests between Market/St. Paul St.;
- Reestablish a Waterfront Citizens Advisory Committee of Council; the current mayor voted to disband city’s Waterfront Access & Protection citizen’s advisory committee.
- Acquire more public waterfront parkland via the Waterfront Hotel Redevelopment Study
- A quarry by Tyandaga in North Aldershot will see the loss of up to 9,000 trees, with concerns about noise, dust, archaeological findings and habitat. I support the community’s request for a review of studies, ensuring compliance with current legislation, and working with the community, province and operator to find solutions. There are a number of years of shale left without impacting residents.
HOUSING/COMMUNITY AMENITIES: Two school closures in Burlington are a wake-up call that we're losing young families. I support more family-friendly housing, affordable housing and community amenites that draw people at all stages of life to our neighbourhoods, including young adults, families and seniors.
- Review the needs and future demands for organized sports, and community programming. Staff’s service plan for organized sport in 2018 stated the city has no more space for community centres, and growing demand for new sport venues, as well as venues suited to older adults.
- Ensure adequate space is set aside for community spaces and parks at the Aldershot, Burlington and Appleby GO mobility hubs, slated to receive ??? jobs and people respectively.
- Explore adding a community centre/seniors’ centre/sports fields in South East Burlington, potentially at Robert Bateman High School (slated to close in 2020) where there is an existing city pool, and/or in North Burlington potentially at Lester B Pearson High School (closing in 2018). The Burlington Seniors’ Centre is bursting at the seams, and many seniors live in South East Burlington. Families here tell me they travel to Oakville for programs at Queen Elizabeth Park Community and Cultural Centre, which also houses an Older Adult Centre (and was also a former school). Should a school site be declared surplus by the school board, the city would have an option to purchase prior to the site going on the open market.
- Review the city’s Joint Venture policy to ensure adequate community/sports programming is provided even if there isn’t a local community group with the capacity to take on building/running a new facility.
- Explore locations for a fenced, leash free dog park south of the QEW
- Complete work on the housing strategy to ensure we’re meeting the needs of residents at a price families can afford
- Explore inclusionary zoning to add affordable housing as a percent of new developments
- Hang on to older, rental housing stock; new housing is more expensive than older housing.
- Work with Habitat for Humanity and the Region of Halton to add more affordable units in new developments.
- Ensure we get our fair share of the federal National Housing Strategy investments, to replace rent subsidies, tackle social housing repairs and support new affordable housing construction.
TRAFFIC/TRANSIT/WALK/CYCLE: Overintensification with no new road infrastructure and insufficient transit will deliver congestion. Reducing vehicle lanes for on-road bike lanes isn't the answer. I support improved traffic light timing to manage traffic flow, efficient transit that works, improved pedestrian safety, and off-road bicycle lanes giving priority where cycling alternatives don't already exist.
- Expand traffic light timing synchronization, in partnership with Halton Region’s similar program
- Improve turning at intersections to increase traffic flow
- Review collision-prone intersections and make changes to ensure safety
- Improve transit frequency and routes to reduce travel times
- Revamp the seniors Community Connection bus to coordinate timing with programs
- Explore reduced/free fares to fill empty buses, especially during off peak travel times
- Enhance pedestrian safety with pedestrian activated stop lights at schools/busy streets
- Implement pedestrian-priority measures for crossings in downtown Burlington and other pedestrian areas of Burlington
- Partner with Burlington Taxi to offer coverage in low ridership areas, and supplement overstretched Handivan Service (the current mayor voted against my motion to reinstate the Taxi Scrip program)
- increase the percent of gas tax dedicated to transit (the current mayor voted against my motion to increase the share from 20-30%, as requested by the city’s own Burlington Senior’s Advisory Committee).
- Paint white thatching where multi-use cycle/walk paths cross roads
- Upgrade or install multi-use trails on hydro or other paths across Burlington, to encourage cross-city cycling and other active transportation
- Redirect the $5 million for off-road cycle lanes on New Street to areas with no cycling alternatives, or safety hazards (for example, crossing the QEW)
FARM BUSINESSES: Our rural area shouldn't be a candidate's prop to justify urban overintensification. It's a vital part of our local economy. I support cutting red tape, developing an agriculture/food hub to ensure farming for generations to come, and bringing rural and urban communities closer together.
- During Official Plan discussions I co-sponsored 11 motions to assist farmers, including establishment of a formal Agricultural & Rural Affairs Advisory Committee of Council; I’ll continue to partner with farmers to ensure our agricultural economy remain vibrant.
- Develop and agriculture/food hub, building on our existing farm operations and local food processing.
- Sponsor a free annual Mayor’s Urban/Rural Bus Tour of area farms with farm to table treats, to bring urban and rural communities together.
ATTRACTING JOBS: The city is not properly tracking jobs growth, and red tape hampers expansion and innovation. I support a renewed focus on job attraction, faster approvals for community-supported projects, and using accurate numbers to measure progress.
- Refocus the Burlington Economic Development Corporation on job attraction in all parts of the city, including the downtown. BEDC and the current mayor rejected a motion to consider the downtown an “innovation district” — though it meets all the criteria and is a vital part of our jobs strategy.
- Use accurate numbers to measure progress: The current job creation numbers (1345 in 2017) aren’t net of jobs that have left, and are based on square feet of construction, not actual jobs created — which, for example, produces 31 new jobs at the Joseph Brant Museum currently under construction, nowhere near reality. We need to be straight with the community about our jobs progress.
- Fast track development that has community approval and provide additional supports for small businesses and homeowners when expanding or rebuilding.
FLOOD RISK: Flooding is the biggest threat to our communities and over-intensification - with less greenspace, reduced setbacks and more lot coverage - will make it worse. We need to do more than encourage back flow valves in individual homes.
- Deal with the root cause by increasing setbacks and lot coverage as part of the upcoming Zoning Bylaw review, to increase permeable surfaces along sidewalks and roadways that keep storm water at source.
- Make low impact development a higher priority, investing in simple green infrastructure.
- Advocate for a national flood program to help finance new infrastructure, improve flood defences, update flood mpas, and restrictconstruction in flood-prone areas. Water damage has surpassed fire as the leading cause of home insurance payouts, according to the Insurance Bureau of Canada.
Unflinching Leadership that Restores Civility, Puts Residents First
STRONG VOICE FOR YOU: We have a leadership vacuum at City Hall, where tough issues are avoided and residents concerns are ignored. I will bring your voice back to City Hall and stand up for you even when the going gets rough and the odds are against us.
- I will continue to champion grassroots leadership, with citizen input informing what council decides, and staff providing impartial advice and implementing the community’s direction — instead of residents getting decisions foisted on them, with the mayor serving up a pre-determined script.
- I’ll continue my newsletter and website to make sure you know about decisions ahead of time, and provide you My Take so you can shape decisions, not simply react to them.
- I’ll remove customer service roadblocks and ensure a culture of “yes” at City Hall, to respond to residents questions and concerns in a timely, helpful manner. (For example, one resident who asked for a bylaw was told to provide the correct number; we know the numbers, you shouldn’t have to.)
- I’ll continue to get involved and advocate for residents even when issues are controversial or tough, rather than staying safely on the sidelines. I joined more than 100 municipalities to press for reform to the Ontario Municipal Board, which eventually occured; the current mayor voted against this motion, and did nothing. I advocated for parents and students during the school closure process, and visited Queen’s Park to seek a province-wide moratorium, which eventually occured; the current mayor avoided this difficult issue.
- Ensure a collaborative and respectful relationship on council; with the current leadership vaccum in the mayor’s office, some council members have resorted to petty politics, personal attacks and exclusionary behaviour of councillors they disagree with. Different perspectives are acceptable; negative behaviour is not.
- I’ll do more than form a committee or hold a seminar to talk about issues; I’ll press for action, w ith your help.
RESPECT FOR RESIDENTS: The public is told they're misinformed and need to be educated; feedback is ignored or dismissed and when there's disagreement, community groups are threatened. I will foster greater commitment to "public service", promote dialogue, active listening and collaboration.
- I’ll continue to model and press for respectful treatment of residents, staff, council and community members. My efforts to date have led to changes to city meetings and opening remarks for standing committee chairs; the current mayor has stood by and largely stayed silent, while others on council have called out bullying.
- I’ll ensure we work with the community to resolve concerns, not send a letter threatening legal action as a first response.
- I’ll continue to invite respectful debate and diverse perspectives online and in council chambers; we are stronger when we listen and learn from each other.
- I will strengthen the role of citizens’ committees, so members feel welcome to advocate to council on key or controversial issues in our community.
Spending on Your Priorites, Not City Hall Agendas
The city is spending on its needs and agendas first. Instead of project management or multi-million dollar investments on things that beneft a few (New Street bike lanes, breakwall in Lasalle Marina), I will reprioritize spending on what benefits the many - especially our families and seniors.
- Refocus spending on public services, beautification and enforcement: I support enhanced services for: sidewalk snowclearing; leaf pickup; bylaw enforcement on evenings and weekends; property standards maintenance; graffiti removal; animal control; infrastructure. The current mayor supported a $550,000 project management budget for the city manager (roughly .5% tax increase), at a time transit, bylaw enforcement and other services were struggling. He voted against my motion to redirect unspent funds in the project management office to soften last year’s tax increase and cover citizen priorities.
- Conduct a line by line review of the budget once per term (zero-based budget exercise), rather than focus budget discussions on incremental increases
- Retain a combined tax rate (city, region, education) at or below the rate of inflation
Can she get anything done? 30 actions and counting!
You may have heard about the 6-1 votes I lose. What you may not know are the quiet successes we've had. In the most recent Official Plan discussions, for example, I succeeded in getting more than two dozen motions passed — more than all of my colleagues combined. Click the tab and you'll read about 29 accomplishments — just a snapshot of the many things we'd achieved over the last eight years together.
- Saved Freeman Train Station from demolition, by bringing a motion supported by council to let the community step up and save it – which you have!
- Saved the Drury Lane pedestrian bridge from being dismantled, a vital link for the Glenwood School Drive community, by bringing a motion supported by council to undertake necessary repairs.
- Set a new standard in communications with my newsletter, website and videos, giving residents straight information, letting you know what’s happening before the vote, giving you My Take, and seeking your input to shape my decisions. No other council member is as engaged with citizens online, nor provides an active commenting forum for citizens to discuss issues with each other. Residents across the city rely on this information and say they’ve never been better informed.
- Helped save and revitalize Village Square. When I joined council Village Square was on the market for sale. I worked with a number of groups, including the Burlington Downtown Business Association (BDBA), to support and help market and fill their space. The Square has been revitalized with regular cultural events, and is now almost fully leased.
- Supported funding a business recruitment position at the BDBA to attract new business to the downtown.
- Worked with councillors across Ontario to press for reform to the Ontario Municipal Board, after our council and the mayor sat this out. The OMB has now been replaced by the Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, giving local development decisions more weight.
- Co-sponsored a motion to update the Section 37 Community Benefits protocol by requiring consultation with the Ward Councillor (an improvement but still more work to do here!)
- Brought civility and respect to community planning meetings, by setting expectations at the beginning of each meeting that “we don’t need to agree, we do need to be respectful.” These slides are now a standard part of city hosted meetings. This language is also part of the standard script for chairs of standing committees — and wasn’t there before.
- Brought over a dozen motion to the new Official Plan discussions which were supported by council including: heritage protection incentives, reduced height in some areas downtown, employment land protection, parking downtown, removing restrictions for normal farming activities, and more. These motions make the plan better, but don’t eliminate the key issue of overintensification.
- Advanced funding for sports field maintenance, via a budget motion supported by council, after fees had gone up with no increase in service.
- Working with Heritage Burlington, supported preservation of the former Wiggsville building at Elgin/Locust by moving it down the street to Maple Ave. The community lined the streets to watch this unusual sight!
- Advocated that Halton Region purchase units in the Paradigm development at the Burlington GO station to add to our affordable housing stock and help reduce the wait list; 15 units were acquired.
- Brought the community together with the developer on the 2085 Pine mid-rise development on a plan that protected the on-site heritage building and was ultimately unanimously supported by council, staff, the developer and residents.
- Supported the pier contractor when their reputation was being dragged through the mud, and council chose (6-1) to retender the project — adding millions in unnecessary costs. In the end, the contracter and the city both received a settlement from the engineering firm that designed the pier.
- Consistently supported a Code of Conduct for council, which after a number of false starts was unanimously approved this year.
- To increase transparency and accountability, advocated for automatically recorded votes, which after a few failed attempts was eventually supported by council.
- Consistently advocated for targetted investments in transit, keeping the issue alive and getting some success along the way (including this year’s addition of Christmas and New Year’s Eve service, the only area municipality that didn’t have it already!)
- Saved parts of the Spencer Smith Willows for future generations. When I learned a week in advance the iconic Spencer Smith willows needed to come down due to rot, I jumped into action with city staff and local businesses to save large cross section slabs for a future installation, donate saplings and wood chunks to the community, and host a lottery to distribute kiln dried and planed pieces of the wood. One piece was turned into a table and donated to City Hall, on display in the lobby.
- Advocated for increased resources for snow clearning on paths and trails to promote all-season ctive transportation.
- Supported extra Handivan services to keep up with growing demand.
- Via work on Heritage Burlington, supported a tax rebate program for designated homes which led to a dozen voluntary heritage designations (versus none in previous decade or more). This was later mirrored at Halton Region.
- With the BDBA and other partners, organized and received council-supported funding to broadcast the final Tragically Hip concert in Spencer Smith Park; more than 12000 people took in the show by this iconic Candian band.
- Through the Downtown Parking Committee, supported purchase of the lots south of the city parking lot at No Frills for more surface parking; supported installation of sensors to provide real time data on parking usage and work with an app to direct people to available parking (coming this Spring). By restriping and reorienting some parking, as well as loading spaces, we’ve added almost a dozen parking spaces downtown.
- Initiated a Parking Partnership protocol to partner with developers during new construction to add public spaces using our parking reserve fund; this protocol has now been embedded into the new Official Plan.
- Brought a motion, supported by council, to treat free employee parking downtown as a taxable benefit, to comply with tax rules and protect employees and residents from a potential future settlement (as happened in Kitchener). I paid for my parking spot early in council term then gave up my space for resident use and believe everyone should pay their own way for parking as area businesses and employees must. The value of the parking picked up by the city is over $225,000 annually – money that could be reinvested in direct resident services.
- Advocated for and supported the establishment of a cultural grants program to support local art and culture
- Supported the establishment of neighbourhood grant programs for community projects and ongoing initiatives
- Secured funding, via a council motion, for No Vacancy art events over several years.
- Supported a long term plan to keep infrastructure in a good state of repair, including stable funding for infrastructure with a dedicated levy.
- Brought in the lowest tax increase in decades our first term of council and froze hirings and wage increases to reset the budget. We still have work to do to refocus spending on your priorities.
Current Agencies, Boards and Committees:
Standing Committees of Regional/City Council:
- Planning & Development Committee
- Committee of the Whole (Regular & Workshop)
- Health & Social Services Committee
City/Regional Boards/Advisory Committees
- Heritage Burlington, Council Representative
- Burlington Downtown Business Association, Council Representative
- Burlington Seniors Advisory Committee, Council Representative
- Conservation Halton, Council Representative
- Older Adult Advisory Committee (Halton Region), Council Representative
- Downtown Parking Committee, Council Representative
- Downtown Hospitality Working Group, Chair and Founder
- Burlington Seniors Community, Inc
- Municipal Working Group on Ontario Municipal Board Reform
Previous Agencies, Boards, Committees, Volunteer Work:
- Burlington Green, Founding Member
- Aldershot 50th, Organizing Committee
- Joseph Brant Hospital, Board Member
- Burlington Seniors Centre Incorporated, Council Representative (reestablished as an independent body when the city terminated its relationship with the board)
- Burlington Waterfront Access & Protection Citizens Advisory Committee, Council Representative (disbanded by council)
- Burlington Waterfront (citizens group), council liaison
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This city is at a cross-roads as our elected representatives want to change Canada's best mid-sized city, ignoring widespread objections from citizens. Now is the time is to speak up for Burlington - it's Everyone's City.