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Launch of Burlington’s new Key to the City program sees Mike Taylor, posthumously, as first recipient

Mike Taylor

The Mayor’s Office is launching  a new Key to the City program at the City of Burlington to honour individuals and organizations who have made significant contributions to our community.

The first recipient of this new distinction will be, posthumously, Mike Taylor of Walk Off The Earth — at this Sunday’s (Jan. 13) tribute concert at Civic Square in the downtown — for the impact he has made on Burlington’s arts and culture scene with his talent, music and community involvement.

“When we are on the road and someone asks where Walk Off The Earth is from, like most Burlingtonians, I’m tempted to say Toronto. But I don’t. I’m too proud of where I’m from and always answer ‘Burlington’ instead. But it’s not as though I am hanging on a distinction without a difference. I remember noticing back in high school, playing in bands, that Burlington was at the center its own music scene–we had our own musicians, our own venues, our own haunts, and most coolly, our own sound.  Bands like The Spoons and Finger Eleven were at the leading edge of this, and perhaps WOTE holds that candle now–I am not the one to say.  This town is packed with great musicians and artists of all stripes, both aspiring and accomplished.  And then there is Sound of Music Festival – what a phenomenal, completely made-in-Burlington, world-class event.  So while there is a lot to like about Burlington–just look around–what I love about Burlington is this slightly submerged, but always burbling creative vitality that I am alluding to.  It’s this verve, this mojo, that besides making Burlington a great place to enjoy the arts, I think, earns Burlington its own star on the musical map.” — Mike Taylor (Beard Guy), Walk Off The Earth, 2015

Many municipalities around the world have similar programs, some called Key to the City, some referred to as the Freedom of the City. This is an honour bestowed by a municipality upon a valued member of the community, or upon a visiting celebrity or dignitary.

The City of Burlington will be working with local artists to commission an artistic piece that serves as the “key.” The final design will represent our city and be able to incorporate a unique element to reflect each of the recipients. More details on this program will becoming.

“We are fortunate to have incredible talent within our community and I look forward to engaging them in this initiative.” — Mayor Marianne Meed Ward


Sunday’s concert will run from 4:30-7:30 p.m. and include specialist guests acoustic performances by: Walk Off The Earth and members of Barenaked Ladies, Scott Helman, Monster Truck, USS, Darenots and Saint Alvia. Kelly’s Bake Shoppe will be providing free hot chocolate.


There will be several roads closed from 3 a.m. on Sunday, July 13 to midnight on Jan. 14 to allow for set-up and clean-up of the concert and to accommodate the large crowds and local support expected.

The following streets will be closed:

  • Brant Street, from Ontario Street to Pine Street
  • James Street, from John Street to Brant Street
  • Elgin Street, from Locust Street to Brant Street
  • Ontario Street from Brant Street to Locust Street

Parking will be free, but traffic will likely be heavy during the event, so concert-goers may want to take Burlington Transit to the Downtown Transit Terminal on John Street or other nearby bus stops. The City of Burlington is also asking, for safety reasons, to use the flashlight on your mobile phones, battery-powered lights or glow sticks instead of candles.

“This was a devastating and tragic loss for his family, his bandmates, fans and the whole community — our city is mourning the loss of Mike. He made Burlington his home in the downtown. We will miss Mike and thank him for his contribution to music here and around the world. Mike and his bandmates put us on the map. Acting as musical ambassadors, they not only advanced our own local culture across the country, but right here in our community too. We hold them in our hands and in our hearts.” — Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

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