By Joan Little

Burlington committees made two decisions last week that individuals will notice. These go to full council Monday, July 4, for ratification.

One will be cheered by drivers who use Fairview Street. The 15 on-street parking spaces in the south curb lane in front of the Halton Mosque will disappear (unless council overturns the committee’s (and staff’s) recommendation). Mayor Rick Goldring and Councillor Paul Sharman were absent, attending an area conference.

The committee vote was unanimous among the five present, although Blair Lancaster was a reluctant supporter. She was unconvinced that removing the parking would solve the problems. She’s right. That, in itself, won’t. It’s up to the Mosque to implement alternatives, perhaps a shuttle.

Trying to help worshippers, council made a huge mistake in 2012, by allowing a six-month pilot project — 15 parking spots in the curb lane for Friday services. They touted it as a win-win solution. It wasn’t. Drivers lost, and have been furious. Safety has deteriorated. Winter is even worse. 2015’s installation of a traffic signal (at taxpayer expense) has not resolved anything. Safety-conscious staff has consistently recommended the parking removal.

Each time, until now, council has granted time extensions (against staff’s recommendation). Allowing on-street parking in the driving lane of the city’s busiest artery isn’t smart. Again last week a Mosque spokesperson requested yet another time extension. The time has come for action — possibly shuttle service — not more delays.

The Mosque is regional, and draws worshippers from other areas. Its property meets minimum city parking standards for places of worship, but its obvious success suggests the standard be re-evaluated.

Worshippers are jaywalking, and getting ticketed for illegal parking. Staff photos included a truck blocking a hydrant. City staff stood firm under questioning. The on-street parking is a hazard. Staff constantly field complaints that worshippers are hijacking visitor parking spaces in nearby townhouses and had one photo of a car parked blocking an internal driveway.

It’s time to park the Mosque’s success problem where it belongs — in the Mosque’s hands, not the city’s. A new Mosque in being contemplated, but it’s years away.

Another item of interest is building permit fees. Permit applications are changing, and are intended to be revenue-neutral overall. With the city virtually built out, there are fewer new homes being built, and more renovations and additions. Staff strongly recommends getting permits for these, and noted that they do some “hand-holding” for novices, providing help and suggestions.

When a home is sold, a good home inspection can spot building code infractions, possibly affecting a sale.

There are too many rates for different types of permits to detail here, but overall, they will rise about 10 per cent, Interestingly, the new bylaw will contain a schedule that details the Code of Conduct for Building Officials. Funny about that. In spite of a 2010 promise to create a Code of Conduct for Council, it’s still pending. It’s been debated several times, but only Mayor Rick Goldring and Councillors John Taylor and Marianne Meed Ward supported it last time.

The committee also approved that Mayor Goldring and Councillor Paul Sharman travel to Sweden in September as part of an eight-person delegation to “work with municipal and industry representatives to advance discussion on a potential strategic partnership to exchange knowledge on community energy, sustainable development and economic development opportunities”.

Councillor Taylor asked why four city people were needed. The cost is about $3,000 each for them, with reps from Burlington Hydro, McMaster and a possible Regional staff member also attending. Actually, it sounds like a very good investment because of Sweden’s advanced energy strategy and success in reducing greenhouse gas emissions. Good for Burlington!

On a different note, I recently found three calls on my answering machine in one day from scammers assuring me I was the subject of lawsuits from Revenue Canada, and to call a hotline quickly for further advice. A relative who works in a bank told me one elderly client had responded. How many of our elderly and new immigrants would be frightened by such calls?

Freelance columnist Joan Little is a former Burlington alderperson and Halton councillor. Reach her at [email protected]

Source: The Hamilton Spectator