Monday, June 25, 2012

Soccer Spin 101: New City Park renamed 'CITY VIEW' Park formally 'LAUNCHES' on Saturday, June 23rd, 2012

Mayor Rick Goldring addresses the massive crowd..
The GRAND OPENING of 'City View Park' -  formerly known as New City Park - launched on Saturday at 11am.   I admit I was expecting THOUSANDS of downtown soccer enthusiasts yelling, screaming, doing a 'plastic grass' victory dance. ... No such luck.

The City of Burlington website had been pumping the event for at least two weeks, inviting all and sundry. The opening was also advertised in the Burlington Post. The press were there, primed & ready. Tim Hortons' even pitched in as the kick-off sponsor offering FREE coffee and Timbits. All in all, set & ready to roll. But aside from the opening-exhibition game players, their coaches & parents, few turned up. How come?

Councillor Paul Sharman had an interesting theory. He was extrapolating on the reasoning for the continued use of plastic grass affording a longer play season etc, when he suddenly admitted "but we're over-capacity". He continued, 'We have more soccer fields then we know what to do with'. Dumbfounded, I listened.

Mr. Sharman, how does this make any fiscal sense? WHY build MORE soccer fields when the City already has a super-abundance? I suppose though that you are, in part, to blame for this, in that you were very actively involved in MOVING the Pan Am Games soccer event of 2015 up here to this "remote" location, instead of letting the Games play out in the fully serviced & available facility in YOUR downtown neighbourhood at Sherwood Forest Park. As I recall YOUR vocal citizen group was concerned about the noise, the parking, the glaring stadium lights & the generally reduced quality of life for adjacent residents. So, using political logic, yes, BUILD MORE (when they're not really needed) ELSEWHERE ...

Anyway, in total, there were less then 40 enthusiasts to hear the Mayor & other polished politicos spout their predictable platitudes of 'jewel of the escarpment', 'an amazing sport venue' etc. At least one third of those in attendance were City employees, with their supporters, who clearly have a vested interest in seeing this 'Centre of Sport Excellence' (or whatever they're spinning it as these days) reach full potential. To wit, Mike Wallace was there. Sure, there was a token gesture towards the Bruce Trail Association, but tellingly, this bells & whistles **MEGA OPENING Invitational** was not listed on either the Bruce Trail or Bruce Trail Iroquois Club websites. ... Obviously a 'public relations' oversight ...

None of this dampened the opportunity for what politicians do best - grandstanding & preening for the photo-op. The City staff photographer complied as best he could, finding soccer ball props and directing the Group shot of City officials, soon to appear in the City of Burlington's City Talk newsletter no doubt.

( Parks & Recreation acting Director, Chris Glenn, with the Mayor, (upper right) Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven* at the podium (lower left) , City Staff Photographer, (lower centre) and the Group Shot: Mayor Goldring, Ward 6 Councillor Blair Lancaster, Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman - the Bruce Trial token spokesman - Ward 1 Councillor Rick Craven & Ward 3 Councillor John Taylor. Notably absent: Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison & 
Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward.)

So, got it. The emphasis in this park is NOT the globally unique Escarpment itself - as it SHOULD be - but rather, the focus is on the soccer ... And WHERE, some may ask, is the 1500-seat soccer stadium going to go? See that liviing field below? Lovely 'as is', isn't it? well, forget THAT.  Who knows what the stadium will actually LOOK like. There has been NO 'public consultations' about that either. The Niagara Escarpment Commission has already given City the permit to install the third plastic grass carpet here with the unseen stadium. Somewhat ironic, considering that taxpayers, who ARE the PUBLIC, are ultimately footing this grandiose 'unseen stadium' bill.

I suppose the IDEA is to give the seated 2015 Pan Am Game promoters & spectators the opportunity to soak up the five star City View' from their elevated & privileged-access positions when they become bored watching the youthful game play far below ... And I suppose the stadium DESIGN for 1500 will try to do everything it can to mitigate the carbon offset of those plastic grass 'heat islands' . Maybe the designers will use expensive passive solar stadium cooling or some such?  Who knows. One thing is certain, this unique & timeless Niagara Escarpment landscape has changed for good. And not, in my humble 'local-yocal' opinion, for the better. 
  City View Park 'view'  
If there is one thing I have learned from this whole sorry affair - of putting padlocked fenced-in plastic grass carpets into an UNESCO World BIO-sphere - it's that City is just not listening. If they were, they would have HEARD  over 300 voices who OPPOSED the use of plastic grass in this natural parkland area. (via the Care2 petition, my Facebook page & the Environmental Review Tribunal of October 2010). Instead, they have selectively listened to the alluring trill of tinkling loonies, aggressive lawyers, PanAm promoters & the "30 people"  from Ward 1*, who all want to impose their GRAND DESIGN of a suburban tournament-level FIFA soccer facility onto this timeless landscape. - HELLO???  We - the people of Burlington, who live, work, play & pay taxes here - would prefer a NATURAL park - for recreational sport use in an un-fenced OPEN family-friendly living green space - as per the ORIGINAL park plan of 2009. Hello?

What has been lost with this fenced-in 'plastic grass' is the timeless rejuvenating GIFT this Living Earth place once offered us all: an opportunity to joyfully interact with this marvelous & majestic open natural environment. Now, we're just expected to play on the fenced-in plastic, follow the signs, and stay on the park-paved sidewalks or tended paths ....

At this point, for those who do genuinely love & RESPECT Nature's wonderful insights & pleasures, I can only suggest you do visit City View Park as soon as you can, before the soccer stadium completely dominates what little 'wild life' is left of this now-struggling "nature" preserve.  Building will commence in 2013 or early 2014. Seek solace where you can. Joni got it right.

One final thought, one wonders why City would name the park 'City View Park', when two parks with the same name already exist within a stone's throw in Southern Ontario. One is in Mississauga and the other is in Brantford. Both these parks are somewhat lifeless suburban community parks surrounded by cookie-cutter housing developments that offer one tired baseball diamond and a few run-down tennis courts. ah well.  Birds of a Feather and all that. Welcome to, um, BURLINGTON's largest Niagara Escarpment park: Where GREEN & SUSTAINABLE GROWTH really means 'We be Avid Supporters of Non-biodegradable Life-denying PLASTIC!

Why doesn't City just cut to the chase and call it 'PHOTO-OP PARK' - ?  If this GRAND OPENING was any indication of things to come, expect a LOT more 'Big Shot' Photo-Pooping & Scooping.

'City View Parks' in Brantford & Mississauga. 

*Officially, 'City View Park' is in Ward 1, even though those in Ward 3 in Burlington & Ward 15 of Hamilton - both ON TOP of the Escarpment - 
will be most affected by this Niagara Escarpment 'development'.

... stay tuned ...

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

Elizabeth May, Green Party Leader of Canada

 Today, I was reading a remark that Ms.May made before the introduction of new private members Bill into the House of Commons. Bill C-436 - An Act to develop and provide for the publication of indicators to inform Canadians about the health and well-being of people, communities and ecosystems in Canada.

This woman so 'gets it' vis a vis the current political climate in Canada.
She quoted United States Senator Robert Kennedy: 
"Too much and too long, we seem to have surrendered community excellence and community values in the mere accumulation of material things. Our gross national product...counts air pollution and cigarette advertising, and ambulances to clear our highways of carnage. It counts special locks for our doors and the jails for those who break them. It counts the destruction of our redwoods and the loss of our natural wonder in chaotic sprawl. It counts napalm and the cost of a nuclear warhead, and armored cars for police who fight riots in our streets. It counts [the] rifle and [the] knife, and television programs which glorify violence in order to sell toys to our children.
Yet the gross national product does not allow for the health of our children, the quality of their education, or the joy of their play. It does not include the beauty of our poetry...the intelligence of our public debate or the integrity of our public officials. It measures neither our wit nor our courage; neither our wisdom nor our learning...."
In fact, Senator Kennedy concluded:
"--it measures everything, in short, except that which makes life worthwhile."
Right on sista.   I vote GREEN

Monday, June 18, 2012

Royal Jubilee Celebration at Paletta Lakefront Park & Mansion: Hats & Hillmans

 A bit of a muggy & gray day at the Paletta Lakefront Park & Mansion for the Strawberry Social in honour of HRH Queen Elizabeth. A vintage hat collection that spans 60 years of HRH reign is on display upstairs, and, for the car buffs, vintage British automobiles grace the circular drive - from the humble Hillman Minx to the mighty Triumph Stag. A proper piper piped by the lake for added atmosphere.

... my favourite shot from this little outing ...

Sunday, June 17, 2012

Cootes Paradise & Our Timely Transition - Part 1 & 2

Keeping my hand in on the writing, I recently produced a review of early native cultures at Cootes Paradise at the western-most tip of Lake Ontario, one of the Great Lakes in central Canada.

For the writing part, consider 'this review', over on my writing blog at And for the visuals, a few samples follow.

All and all, it was a fun & interesting assignment to try to IMAGINE this inland wetlands area WITHOUT the current & intrusive industrialization now so pervasive along its shoreline. Clearly, the 'balance' is way off-kilter. It continuously begs the question: is our on-going destruction of Nature really the net result of all our 'progress'?

Aside from perpetually pondering this, I did find some wonderful 'hidden' sites with a few very engaging characters ...  Enjoy.

Early village settlements around natural waterways confirm the 
500 year transition from nomadic 'hunter-gatherers' to sedentary horticulturalists.
(Graphs, above & below, courtesy of David G.Smith, archeologist University of Toronto.)

 Muskrat: in case you're wondering. A common food source 300 years ago, as in, 'muskrat stew'.

Wet your appetite? 
Head on over to the 
 article ... HERE

and just published on 

Friday, June 15, 2012

New Oil Painting: 'Fire in the Tepee with the Full Moon Outside'

oil on primed board
For Sale
contact the artist for size & price

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

End of Lakeland - VIDEO LINK

I've had a number of repeat requests to see the video from my spring newsletter. 
I've decided to post it again. Just click on the link below:

The music was composed by Avro Part (umlaut over the a)
entitled, 'Spiegel im Spiegel', a lovely piece of music.
This slideshow/video was created soon after I learned 
that my studio had been 'sold' unexpectedly in November of 2011.

 Somewhat surprisingly, I'm still here ... For how long, I don't know.
... we must count these small blessings wherever we can ... 


Sunday, June 10, 2012

New Oil Painting: Five Red-Wing Blackbirds in the Magnolia Tree

For sale: oil on primed board. 
Please contact zee artist for size & price.

Bruce Trail Conservancy Celebrates 50 Years of Volunteering

Despite periodic torrential downpours, 500 + intrepid volunteers, from Tobermory to Niagara, gathered to celebrate 50 years of the Bruce Trail. Suited up in 'all weather' gear, a massive BBQ got underway with entertainment by Juno Award winner, Ian Thomas,  & some gal whose bellowing pipes raised the rain spattered roof! On hand, with brief speeches, were Honorable Michael Chan, Minister of Tourism, Culture & Sport for Ontario, and Honorable Ted McKeekin, Minister of Agriculture. But by far the most moving and witty speech was given by Dr. Philip Gosing, who, at 84 years of age, and one of the founders of the ever-wonderful Bruce Trail, recounted the 'early efforts' of getting this massive trail up & running ...

The Bruce Trail has been completely built and maintained by dedicated volunteers from the tip of Tobermory to the river's edge in Niagara. Akin in concept to the Appalachian Trail, the Bruce is dedicated to preserve & protect the globally unique biosphere of the Niagara Escarpment in Ontario.

I was, and remain, very lucky & happy to have served for 5 years as a Trail Captain volunteer on the Ian Reid Side Trail, (off the Bruce Trail that runs on top of the escarpment at Kerns Road & Dundas Street in Burlington.)  Ian Reid, a delightful & dedicated sprite, was one of the principal organizers of the 'Hamilton Chapter' of the Iroquois 'section' of the Trail. The side trail, named in his honour, is a moderately difficult loop up and down the escarpment face. It is a very familiar trail to 'locals', young & old.

All in all, the festival, held at the Dundas Valley Conservation Area off Governor's Road in Dundas Ontario, was a great and fun event - albeit it, a bit 'damp'. This occasion also stands as a key 'marker' of growth for the Conservancy. The Bruce Trail legacy has now been firmly established. Soon it will be up to the next generation to carry on this important NATURALIST philosophy & tradition - and work - of protecting and preserving this patch of 'wildlife' that runs throughout Southern Ontario  - for The Future.

I am mighty proud, and also very humbled, to be a part of this Great & Good on-going effort.

Monday, June 4, 2012

HRH The Queen, Her Diamond Jubilee & Some Idiot's Underpants

I was watching the wonderful BBC coverage of the River Thames River Pageant in honor of HRH The Queen's Diamond Jubilee, and was kinda stunned by some relatively famous British actor remarking how he was wearing underpants to celebrate the occasion. What a yahoo.

Meanwhile, the Queen, the most stately & precious national 'pearl', is standing in the bitter cold & pouring rain during the final rendition of 'Rule Britannia'. The crowd, for the most part, had dispersed during the latest downpour. Yet, it is she and her 90 year old husband, Prince Philip, surrounded by her grandchildren, who stand stoic against the elements. By so doing, yes, they are honored, but more importantly, STANDING THERE as they do, they pay to tribute to the country that they - and she - so dearly love.

UNDERWEAR????  Psffffft. Dumb dufus. And honestly, BBC, sure, levity to gravitas, but come-on.
Who gives a rat's ass about some idiot's underwear??? 

Queen Elizabeth is truly a most remarkable woman. She has performed her 'duty' unflinchingly for six long & turbulent decades. A global leader and inspiration, she stands head & shoulders above some petty pouncing by a forgotten prat. Nota bene.