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Pepper Parr's interview with Angelo Bentivegna

Angelo Bentivegna will run in ward 6 – challenges Lancaster, critical of her air park involvement.

By Pepper Parr

March 27, 2014


They are sometimes called “issue” politicians; people who had an issue with city hall and fought back to make something happen and went on to serve their communities very well as city councillors.

 These “issue” politicians tend to have had some experience with local groups where they were one of the hundreds that serve in the trenches making thee wheels go round.

Angelo Bentivegna  expects to be a force if he is elected to city council.  His learning curve will be steep.

Angela Bentivegna is an issue politician.

An immigrant to this country, he arrived in 1957 and lived in Montreal, in a less than tony part of town, where he started working at the age of 14 selling newspapers at a nickel a copy outside the old CN yards.

He got a job after that in a restaurant, completed high school, where he met the woman he married and has been married since 1978. The two of them attended McGill University at the Faculty of Education; they both wanted to be teachers.

Bentivegna has been fortunate enough to find mentors; people who saw his capacity and his energy and developed his skills in the operation and management of different kinds of restaurants.  He managed restaurants, opened up new locations for the Victoria Station operation as well as Kelsey’s where he was the owner of a franchise.

Angelo Bentivegna tends to look people in the eye and listen carefully.

When Cara bought out all the Kelsey franchises – Angelo found himself with a decent cheque in his pocket and an opportunity to strike out on his own. “I always liked the idea of working for myself and this was the time in his life when he could do that.” He said.

The restaurant business was the one thing he knew very well; he knew everyone in that business, which he explains is “really a very small community.”

Angelo and his wife both graduated as teachers – she stayed in a classroom, he roamed North America for different restaurant organizations.  Angelo and Diane lived through all of the recessions – he can name every one of them.

With a strong restaurant management background getting into retail selling products that were a part restaurant business was a natural – they opened their first shop in 1991 on Fairview –and have been in that same plaza location ever since.

Bentivegna learned to roll with the changes in the retail world.  They started selling cooking utensils and as consumer demand shifted – they shifted.  Today the Mrs. B’s Gift House focuses on gift packages and biscotti baked daily.

In TEAR Diane, Angelo’s wife, thought there was something wrong with a consistent itch she had in her chest.   The Bentivegna’s  were fortunate – early detection resulted in surgery that rid Diane of the disease.   The family was grateful and wanted to do something for the community; they decided they would purchase a Digital Mammography Unit with Biopsy attachment  for the Joseph Brant hospital – price $450,000 which didn’t seem to deter the family.  They organized their event, sold tickets, found sponsors and thought things were going just fine when they ran into a brick wall at city hall.

If Angelo Bentivegna is elected to city council he will either have to get up very very early to make the biscotti – or this city will just have to go without.

Beauty and the Bistro, the name of the fund raising event, was set up so that every penny  went to the fund to pay for the Digital Mammography Unit with Biopsy attachment – nothing, not a dime, was paid to anyone.  Angelo scrounged support from everyone he knew and in the restaurant world – he knew everyone.  Ten restaurants were lined up to serve small portions of food at a gala event where the tickets were priced at $50 – “We wanted every to be able to afford to attend”, said B

He got a party tent supplier to help out, “borrowed 1200 glasses, table cloths – you name it and Angelo B found someone to ask to donate what was needed.The event was to take place at the Leggat automobile showroom on Fairview.  That location was not zoned to hold banquets, which B wasn’t aware of but didn’t see as a problem.

 The  Mercedes-Benz dealership on the North Service Road was used for two fund raising events so B didn’t think he had a problem.  That changed when he started trying to get some help at city hall. Angelo couldn’t believe what he was hearing – why not?

He recalls one day when he asked city hall receptionist if the Mayor was in – he wasn’t.  None of the councillors were in either but he did manage to get through to the administrative assistant for Councillor Craven and she said she would help.

City planner Bruce Krushelnicki learned of the problems and help Angelo work his way through the complex process of getting a change in the zoning for the Leggat site on Fairview.

It took an appearance before the Committee of Adjustment to get a minor variance and an appearance before city council to get a $420 fee waived.  Angelo B got his permits and the city got a new bylaw that meant no one else would have to go through the same hoops ever again.  Bylaw 2020-327 solves that problem 

Angelo found getting information and clear direction at city hall confusing and frustrating – he didn’t think it was supposed to be that hard and around last Christmas began to think in terms of running for a seat on city council and working towards bringing about a change.

People can expect to know just where Angelo Bentivegna will stand when there is an issue to be addressed.

Angelo Bentivegna  is certainly persistent.  While he apparently didn’t understand the rules and there may have been a touch of impatience when he was at the counter at city hall he kept at it and finally found someone who would help and eventually got what he needed for his charitable event.

In an early draft of the platform Angelo Bentivegna  is going to run on he says he is:

Passion, persistence, and productive, that’s who I am.

I listen…. We come up with a plan and we get to work.

I will have no excuses…and will admit when I need help.

I will commit 100% of my time as a full-time Councillor.

 Expect this from me:  One voice, one ward, our community, our great City….that is what I will embrace.

The challenges for ward 6 as Angelo Bentivegna sees them are:

The Airpark on Appleby Line.  He doesn’t have any plans as to what should be done with the property once the various court appeals have been heard.  He has begun to make inroads with the people who are directly impacted by the air park however B lives south of the 407/Dundas divide. 

Many feel that it is time for someone who actually lives in the rural part of the city to sit on city council but B thinks he can overcome that problem by reaching out and being available to people.  He is very critical of the practice Councillor Lancaster had of holding her ward events at the Air Park.

 Transit is a stated issue but there are no policy outlines as to what he thinks the solutions are nor does he define the problem.  The city’s aging population and the needs of our young families that need more programs for young children are subjects B wants to focus on – but nothing specific here either.

 Ensure that we save the lakefront but no suggestions as to what should happen to the Beachway.

 There isn’t a motherhood issue that Angelo B doesn’t touch on in his campaign outline.   “We need to protect where we live, work, play and how we grow in the future”, is the clarion call.

Angelo Bentivegna has had his share of recognition for his community work.  He was a finalist for the Business Excellence Award given by the Canadian Italian Business Professional Association.  “I lost out to Angelo Paletta and I can live with that said Bentivegna

He was recognized by the Chamber of Commerce and awarded the Mayor’s Community Business Service Award in 2011

Add to that the:

Chamber of Commerce award winner of Best Retail/Wholesale Business. -2001

President’s Award for Burlington City Rep Hockey Club – 1991

President’s Club Award – Victoria Station Restaurants – 1979

President McGill University Student Faculty of Education-1976

His most recent community initiative is Chair of “Beauty and the Bistro”, a community wide, three-year fundraising initiative to purchase a Digital Mammography Unit with Biopsy attachment for Joseph Brant Hospital.

Angelo is a member and supporter of the “Gift of Giving Back” the largest community initiated food drive in Canada led by  Jean Longfield one of the Directors of the Burlington City Rep Hockey Club.

Welcomed fans and guests during the OHL Memorial Cup 2011 twelve day event, managing and co-coordinating “Hockey House” activities from beginning to end at the Hershey Centre in Mississauga for the St. Mike’s Majors.

-Initial Charter Member of Lion’s Club Foundation for Guide Dogs in Oakville…’09

Burlington City Rep Hockey Club – Vice President… 94-present

Burlington Cougars Jr. A Hockey Club Executive 2001-2003

Burlington Tourism Supporter..08-present

Parent Council and later President of Notre Dame Catholic H.S. Parent Council 1991-2001

Created a WinterLude Fundraising Program for Notre Dame High School raising funds for computers and the library program 1991-2001.

Involved as Parent Liaison on Strategic Planning Committee with Halton Catholic District School Board 1991-2001.

Volunteer for the CIBC Run for The Cure Hamilton Burlington Chapter.

Angelo B appears to have touched all the bases – can he reach out far enough to touch the hearts of the people in ward 6. It should be an interesting race.  There is an additional candidate running in ward 6, Jim Curran with a fourth candidate expected to declare early in April.



·  Greg Fabian

March 27, 2014 at 10:27 pm

Kudos to Mr. Bentivegna for his many accomplishments and community involvement.

But let us get some specific solutions specific issues. There is nothing substantial here yet. As you say, just motherhood issues/statements, which anyone can blurt out.

This is a well-documented history of Mr. Bentivegna, even going back 38 years to uncover that he was Student President of the McGill Faculty of Education and to 1979 to uncover a Presidents Club award. Those are so far removed from the present day that they are not relevant vying for a position on city council.

I am sure Mr. Parr that you will be fair to all by affording the same level of research, documentation and presentation as to the life and times and accomplishments of Mr. Curran, and in fact, each and every one of the candidates for all of the wards in Burlington. We need to know when they immigrated, where they grew up, and what jobs they held since the age of 14.

On another note, it is so tiring to know that we have to endure 8 months of municipal election campaigning. For the life of me I cannot understand why it requires such a long drawn out process.

It seems to me that candidates for re-election would be very distracted (and likely not putting in 100% effort) from doing their paid duty work for the taxpayers for the next 7 months.

Could anyone offer some insight into this?

·  Glenda Dodd

March 28, 2014 at 10:38 am

Way to go Angelo…..I’ve knew Angelo professionally for a number of years. I encourage everyone in ward 6 to get behind Angelo and replace Blair. From what I see and read she is to attached to the business people involved with the Air park development and not close enough with the residences of ward 6. I may reside in ward 2 but what happens in all of Burlington concerns me.

·  R. Oliver

April 2, 2014 at 9:01 pm

I enjoyed reading Angelo Bentivegna’s profile, and like Mr. Fabian, found it to be well researched and well documented.

I feel that giving the reader background into Mr. Bentivegna’s early years explains his appreciation for hard work. His employment history indicates a drive to succeed, a willingness to put forth every effort to complete a job, and an ability to network and communicate. These are qualities I want to see in my City Councillor!

Additionally, the list of awards “Mr. B” has been given serves to tell me that Angelo has been committed to community involvement and positive action for his entire adult life. More positive qualities for a Councillor to possess!

Mr. Bentivegna’s draft platform indicates that his time as Councillor will be marked with research and collaboration on the issues affecting his ward and the city, and that his plans will reflect the desires and opinions of his constituents.

Good luck on October 27, Mr. B!

Committee to Elect Angelo Bentivegna
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