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Could a land swap save the city and keep the waterfront in the hands of the public?

By Pepper Parr

September 29th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It was during a meeting on that wonderful deck that runs along the north side of Lakeshore Road – across the street from Spencer Smith Park where one can see the ships heading to, or leaving, Hamilton harbour and where, what a long departed friend said, one can enjoy an Adult Libation.

One of the prime places to just enjoy the city is on the north side of Lakeshore looking out over the lake. Great ideas bubble to the surface while enjoying an Adult Beverage,

I was meeting with a couple of friends and talking through possible options and new ideas to keep the Waterfront Hotel site in public hands rather than have a large tower go up.

At the time no one knew that the developer’s plan was for two 30 story plus towers on the site.

Many see the land south of Lakeshore Road as a “public” part of the public realm.  Much of it is land that was recovered and made usable with landfill.

The owners of the hotel do have title to some of the land but surely not all the land right up to the edge of the lake.

My friends, who don’t want their names trotted out at this point – at an appropriate time they will be more public.  These are men who comment intelligently on public matters.

They wondered aloud if there was not some kind of land swap that could be done.

And that was when a light bulb lit up.

It doesn’t function all that well as a place to work and the city is going to need a lot more space.

City hall as a building is not that functional.  It is past its best-before date but, because it is what we have, money is going to be spent on making the best of a bad situation.

It is an awkward building – there was no real design – additions kept being added. The entrance was once on the west side.

The Art Gallery has never been a truly functional building.  It is a collection of additions to a structure that were added on when there was a donor.

So – here is a swap that could be done:

The owner wants to build and has some impressive designs – that will, if ever built, change the heart and soul of the city. There is a chance to give the developer what they want and to save what is left of Burlington.

Exchange the Waterfront Hotel site for the city hall site and the Art Gallery site.

Then design a purpose built building that would house City Hall and the Art Gallery on the Waterfront Hotel site.

Include a band shell and ensure the roof of the structure is environmentally friendly.  And ensure that the building is not more than four storeys.

Two for the Art Gallery and two floors for the city.

Hold a charette and commission some design ideas from architects from around the world.

Imagine for a moment: City Hall and the Art Gallery nestled at the base of the slope of the land immediately south of Lakeshore Road leaving a clear view of the Lake.  Try the idea on for size the next time you are walking along the promenade and talk it up with your friends.

Parking – that is something that would have to be figured out.  The Lotus Street Parking lot is used by city hall staff now – that could continue and there could be some parking beneath the four storey building.

Can’t be done you say?  With the right leadership – it certainly can be done.

Rob MacIsaac, a former Burlington Mayor, took bold steps and changed the city in a way that no one has since his time.

Rob MacIsaac, a former Burlington Mayor, did it when he turned the former police station on Locust into the Performing Arts Centre, then had the building that houses a restaurant along with the tourist office on the ground floor and office for the Chamber of Commerce, the BDBA and the Economic Development Corporation on the second floor with five levels of parking above it all.

Then he got really ambitious and got a pier built as well.

So – never say it can’t be done – think about how it can be done and where the leadership is going to come from.

More on this going forward.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

 

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The evolution of a piece of land on the south side of Lakeshore Road.

News 100 redMarch 8, 2016

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON

We knew it as the location of the Riviera.

The Riviera Motor Court began operations in 1963. The two level, 32-room motel offered guests a beautiful view of Lake Ontario along the back portion of the motel.

The earliest information for a manager was a Mr. William Dikeman. In 1984 the motel was bought by Mr. John Lee who incorporated it as 558644 Ontario Limited.

Riviera from front

The Riviera on the Lake – lots of stories.

The last managers to operate the business were Peter and Yolanda Piekarski. Annual profits were in the area of $242,000.

Riviera balcony west side

The balconies at the rear of the motel made the room rate worth every dime.

There was nothing exceptional about the motel – it was the view of the lake from the units at the back of the building.

The 0.7-hectare, block-long property between Elizabeth and Pearl streets just east of Brant was assembled over time. The Lakeshore Road portion was part of a land swap that had the city giving some land in exchange for a shoreline walkway at the edge of the lake which has been in place for a number of years.

Sales office Bridgewater

When you reach the 70% plus level in sales you don’t need a fancy demonstration site – it had to make room for the construction equipment.

In 2006, Burlington city council approved plans for a new construction project on the property. The project, now known as Bridgewater, has been delayed over the years due to economic factors as well as difficulty in obtaining a developer and hotel partner.

Bridgewater - sales office gone BEST

Construction workers stripping away what is left of the sales office for the Btidgewater project on Lakeshore Road.

Bridgewater was to have a 7-storey hotel at street level, that got increased to eight storeys; a 7-storey condo behind the hotel and to the west of both buildings, a 22-storey condo. The condo would obscure the view of Lake Ontario for those living in the condos on the opposite side of Lakeshore. The new buildings would feature a central courtyard open to the public that would lead to the walkway along the water.

The property is owned by Mayrose Tycon who, since 1994, were focused on finding a developer to undertake the construction and to take over the property.
Mady Development Corporation was named but they were taken off the site due to a tricky clause in their agreement with Mayrose Tycon.

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The motel is long gone but the walkway that will eventually run from this point all the way to the canal was built a number of years ago as part of a land swap with the city.

The project was “in the works” for the longest time; Conservation Halton had informed Mayrose that if development did not occur on the property by the end of 2012 they would lose between 15 to 20 feet of shoreline property under a new Ontario Regulation.

That got things moving – Mayrose had to get an extension from the Conservation people but that didn’t immediately result in shovels in the ground. It wasn’t until New Horizons was invited to develop the site that one got the sense that this was really going to happen.

Jeff Paikin, known for quality work with a number of solid projects under his belt.

Paikin had bought a unit in the project and was later invited to do the development.

It has been nothing but solid progress since then. Sales of the project are reported to have passed the 70% point. There will a planned 150 units in the two condominium towers.

Bridgewater - consruction equipment - 12 pieces

A collection of 12 pieces of heavy duty construction equipment are on the site – they give a whole new meaning to “shovels in the ground”

Paikin’s partner Joe Giacomodonato handles the actual construction work.

At one point the hotel was going to be open for the Pan Am Games in 2015.

As for the Riviera the writing was on the wall in 2010. They began offering rooms on a monthly basis only. The Region of Burlington paid Riviera to house the city’s homeless people and immigrants.

In April of 2012 the municipal building code department and fire department served a notice on the owners that they needed to bring the building up to code or close it down.

The owners decided to close the building which was boarded up.

On August 18, 2012, the building came one step closer to demolition when a fire broke out in the hotel, caused by arson.

The 2015 Pan Am date came and went; the designated developer of the site changed but the project had just too much value built into it to not go forward.

Three structure project has been the "in the works" since 1985 when developers were given the right to build a 22 storey plus building on the property where the Riviera Waterfront Motel used to exist.

Three structure project has been the “in the works” since the early 1990’s when developers were given the right to build a 22 storey plus building on the property where the Riviera Waterfront Motel used to exist.

Last week the sleek sales office met its turn with the wrecking ball. The south side of Lakeshore Road lost its parking meters and traffic is being restricted for a couple of weeks while large concrete pipes get buried. What was the Riviera is now the construction site for an upscale condominium that will consist of a seven story and a twenty two story structure attached to each other by a four level underground garage.

The site will include a four star Mariott hotel – the opening date is still pencilled in as 2018 – those things tend to be pretty loose until construction is well under way.

The four floors down garage work will get started soon; the grade of Elizabeth will change and slowly but surely the Bridgewater will rise out of the ground and reach 22 storeys into the sky.

The 22 storey structire that is due to be built on the waters edge will forever change the look of the city. For the better?

An architectural rendering of an aerial view of the Bridgewater project from the lake side.

The view from the top floor be something to experience.

Paikin, who is a marketer at heart will tell anyone who is within earshot that : “The design is so fantastic and the location is probably the No. 1 location in all of Ontario, if not Canada, as a place to live.”

He might be right.

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A Gazette reader has a question for you on the Bateman High School site that the city is in the process of purchasing

By Jeremy Skinner

June 5th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Much has been mentioned in the Gazette about the Bateman opportunity that is before us. I ask that each person who has contributed a comment thus far and are interested in the issue to respond by way of a comment to this article with your answers to the following two questions.

Question 1:
Do you believe that the City should acquire the Bateman property via a land swap which would enable the HDSB to acquire Wellington Park as part of their Burlington Central site?

If not, do you acknowledge the fact that the HDSB will likely be forced to sell the Bateman property to private as opposed to public interests? Note: Public access to Centennial Pool may be lost because it is owned by HDSB and operated by the City.

A lot of land and a lot of public interest.

Question 2:
(Answer only if yes to question 1. ) What do you believe that the Bateman property along with or without existing 220,000 sq. ft. 2 storey building should be used for?

Consider the fact that the City has received multiple offers from potential tenants seeking long term leases to reside in Bateman. These include:

– Brock University who wishes to relocate their Faculty of Education from Hamilton;
– HDSB who wishes to relocate their Burlington Gary Allan Learning Centre from 3250 New St.;
– Burlington Public Library Appleby Branch who wishes to relocate from Appleby Square Plaza (which will soon undergo redevelopment).
– TechPlace who wishes to establish presence in the East Burlington business community; and
– a City Community Centre complete with gym and pool facilities.

The long term leases from these tenants will cover most, if not all, of the one-time costs required to enable necessary maintenance upgrades required to host these tenants. Think of the financing to that of seeking a mortgage to repair an existing owned house which has a long term revenue stream from multiple tenants.

So is the Bateman situation a mountain or a molehill? Share your answers to the two questions above by adding a comment to this article.

When Jeremy Skinner sent this in we weren’t sure if it was a good idea – then thought that it might be a good idea to let the readers ask the questions and see how other readers respond.

Take it as one of our engagement initiatives.  We will work with what comes in and send it along to Council members.

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Lot of yappity yap over just where things are with the Bateman high school property purchase.

By Pepper Parr

May 20th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There is just something not quite right about the sale and purchase of the Bateman High School property.

It is monumentally expensive.

It brought about the sanctioning of a council member based on a complaint by two other Council members.

Councillor Stolte was docked five days’ pay for talking publicly about something that was discussed in a CLOSED session of Council – a no no in the municipal world.

Councillors Nisan and Galbraith filed a complaint to the Integrity Commissioner.  The issue was related to comments about the sale of the Bateman high school property n property.

Then there is an announcement that there will be a land swap – the city would sell the sports field to the west of Central High school to the Halton District School Board – the proceeds of that sale would go towards paying for the Bateman property owned by the public Board of Education.

A Gazette reader sent us a couple of tweets that were sent yesterday.

Here we have Lynne Crosby talking to someone with concerns and questions.. Civil enough

But then the following appears.

Were these meant to be assuring words?

Is Councillor Sharman offside on this?  He isn’t just a citizen with an opinion – he is a councillor with all kinds of inside information that a lot of people would like to hear him expand on.

Our faithful reader said: “My take is that the city has too much invested in this already to walk away. Look how they spent dollar after dollar for the pier to nowhere with no accessibility to the upper area for those who cannot walk up the stairs.

“Residents will never know the true cost of the Bateman project.

“Someone suggested to me that one of the reasons why so few people are entering the Municipal race is because they don’t want to have to work with our current Mayor, and presently no one is really challenging her.”

The social media types and their networks are going crazy over the Bateman high school and Central High school sports field matter.  Amidst all this there is chatter over it all being a done deal

Don’t think it is a done deal and there might be a chance that it will fall apart.

 

 

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Waterfront study and the development application - no recent news on either.

By Pepper Parr

March 12th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The deadline for responses to the survey put out after the Waterfront Study virtual meeting that took place on February 22nd, was March 1st the last date they would be accepted.

There are two things taking place with the area outlined in blue. The oldest activity is a study of the area outlined in blue which the city says has been ongoing since 2018 – it actually started way back in 2015 when the city had a Staff member doing some work on what would be possible and fit in with the Promenade and Spencer Smith Park when the owners of the Waterfront Hotel decided they were ready to redevelop the property. The area within the red boundary is the property owned by Darko Vranich . In August of 2021 he began the process of providing the City Planning department the information it would need to prepare a report for City Council which would decide to Approve the development, Not approve the development or approve a development with required changes. hotel site was ready. The report from the Planning department has to be before City Council and approved no later than April 17th of 2022

It was a very short survey; two questions – what did you think and where do you live.

The X’s mark the land the city would take as permitted park land allowance.

Shouldn’t have taken all that long to sift through the responses, pass them along to the consultants overseeing the study and share both the results of the survey and whatever the next step was going to be.

There was some interesting news shared during the DATE meeting – the most significant being that the city planned on taking a 20 metre wide piece of land from the west side of the site. The width would run from Lakeshore Road to the southern and of  the the property line.

There doesn’t appear to be any sense of urgency about a study that is intended to “inform” the long term development that will take place.  Wouldn’t the Hotel site development application, if approved, set the pattern for any development in the immediate area.  No?

 

Related news stories:

A time line that didn’t work for the citizens.

What about a land swap

The Statutory meeting

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Plan B fears the city might have missed the boat on keeping view to Spencer Smith Park as part of the public domain

By Don Fletcher

January 13th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

An earlier version of this article included illustration that were out-dated.  The illustrations have been revised.

We are pleased to learn from this update that Phase 4 of this study has restarted, and to understand somewhat why the study was placed on hold in mid-2018. Given that we’ve suffered through a pandemic over the last few years, it’s understandable why it wasn’t resumed earlier.

A study on the best way to develop this area began in 2015.

The delay in completing the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study as originally planned is still potentially problematic. In Section 3.3 of Bousfields’ Planning & Urban Design Rationale that was part of the Burlington 2020 Lakeshore Inc.’s development application submitted on October 26th, 2021, their rationale for requesting the removal of Policy 5.5.9.2(l) of the in-force Burlington OP, as amended, was that this study had an “indeterminate deadline” with a further characterization that it “has never been completed, indefinitely sterilizes the subject site from redevelopment and from achieving its highest and best use potential”. It is not clear to us whether the property owner ultimately plans to ignore the guidance of the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study, but it is clear that completing it on a highly accelerated basis must be a top priority.

Citizens’ PLAN B remains committed to the extension of Spencer Smith Park and the enhancement of the Brant Street gateway to Lake Ontario, through the application of the ‘Thin Red Line’ design principle related to the Waterfront Hotel Redevelopment. Yes, we understand the changing context of the NE corner of Brant Street & Lakeshore Road with respect to the origins of the ‘Thin Red Line’, but it still has great utility in its’ application to achieve what most residents want in the redevelopment of the Waterfront Hotel property and remains a simple concept that resonates with everyone.

A citizens group – Plan B – introduced the concept of a thin red line. Will it be enough and will it ever be adhered to?

We understand that City staff with support of project consultant, The Planning Partnership, will resume the work plan where it left off in 2018. This update references Section 3 of Report PB-23-18, which contains 16 key policy directions, as one of those milestones that can be built upon.

PLAN B fully supports PB-23-18.

Application of the ‘Thin Red Line’ will help fulfill Public Realm policy directions 5a, 7, 8 and 9, which in our opinion are not achieved in the current development application.

One deliverable that was not mentioned in this report but should also serve to expedite completion of the project is Emerging Preferred Concept #3. I have attached a Planning Partnership Jan/ Feb 2018 Overview/ Snapshot of its’ evolution for your reference, with some of the rationale for selecting EPC #3 noted there re-iterated below:

Achieves the Urban Design objectives for the Downtown

Achieves a Floor Area Ratio (FAR) that balances the base permissions of 5.0 with the Developer’s Current Concept of 7.5 FAR

Buildings located east of the ‘Thin Red Line’, representing the view corridor south of Lakeshore Road, proposed by the Downtown Mobility Hub Study.  A new significant open space defined by the ‘Thin Red Line’ located on the west portion of the property, contiguous with the waterfront park

Buildings that provide a clear landmark visible from the park, Brant Street, John Street, Lakeshore Road & Lake Ontario

A potential development yield that is viable and provides some incentives for redevelopment.

Panel 1 is what the developer originally proposed, panel 2 is what is permitted on the site, panel 3 is one of the alternatives that didn’t include any resident input panel 4 is the last iteration of concepts being considered in the planning study.

This was the last iteration of conceptual designs that we were party to, and while we fundamentally supported it, we through Ramsay Planning Inc. submitted a few minor improvement suggestions. We are unaware of Vrancor’s feedback.

We acknowledge and respect the current property owner’s right to profit from his investment, and that this will necessitate a “reasonable” amount of massing and building height. We also believe passionately that the impact of this development will be felt by many future generations of Burlington residents & visitors, and collectively we must get it right. Citizens’ PLAN B is completely open to work with all stakeholders to help make this a “win-win” scenario.

Follow Plan B at: www.planbwaterfrontredevelopment.ca

Related news stories:

What about a land swap?

Plan B has been pressing city council for years

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With the horses out of the barn why does Council want to talk about ideas for a different barn design?

By Pepper Parr

January 10th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

Council is going to hear a report this week on the The Waterfront Hotel Planning Study that was undertaken to comprehensively plan the  waterfront site at 2020 Lakeshore Road and guide the landowner in its redevelopment.

Given that the site has been referred to as Ground Zero for Burlington an in-depth study made a lot of sense.

The Waterfront Hotel Planning Study will inform an implementing Official Plan Amendment. Once approved, that amendment will form part of the City’s Official Plan and provide a strategic framework to guide the redevelopment of the subject property.

Notice the space between the southern part of the dotted red line and the edge of the lake. Who owns that property? Is it part of the hotel land or is it controlled by Conservation Halton? That’s an important question.

The Study began in early 2017 and included three public meetings/community workshops (a total of six sessions) and two community surveys. In November 2017, an update on the status and progress of the study was presented to Council at the Planning and Development Committee Meeting. This community and stakeholder engagement phase first explored eight design ideas, which were then refined to three preliminary design concepts, and then two emerging concepts.

As a result of additional community and stakeholder input in early 2018, a staff report was brought to the Planning and Development Committee in June 2018. At that time, a set of key policy directions to guide the development of a final concept were endorsed by City Council. These key policy directions were organized around the design principles of Land Use and Built Form, Public Realm, and Mobility and Access.

In mid-2018 the Study was placed on hold due to other various priorities in the Community Planning Department such as the New Official Plan process and for staff to re-visit the Study workplan while considering the set of key policy directions endorsed by Council in June 2018.

While all the futzing and putzing was going on the developer beavered away at doing the design work and taking part in a pre-consultation meeting required to submit a development application.

The design is world class – the architects have made excellent use of the different views that will be available.

That application was submitted, but deemed to be incomplete by the planning department.

So what is the point of returning to the Study – the developer has wind in his sails and is on his way.

The Staff report makes mention of “height not to exceed three (3) storeys within 20 metres of Brant Street and Lakeshore Road and eleven (11) storeys adjacent to John Street and beyond 20 metres of Brant Street and Lakeshore Road” while the developer presents a plan for two towers that are very close to the southern edge of Lakeshore Road and soar 35 storeys high.  The second tower is just 30 stories high.  Both sit on a five storey podium.

The design of the buildings is superb, these are very smart looking buildings that would be a delight to live in.  The plan puts them in the wrong place. One wag described the development as “out of proportion; out of place and should be outa here”

The northern edge of the site is very close to the edge of Lakeshore Road. The five storey podium will loom over the street – with no view to the lake. The entrance to the east end of Spencer Smith Park will be through an opening in the podium.

The surrounding context of the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study Area including changes to the northeast corner made through the scoped re-examination of the New Official Plan Project, will be considered in the development of the preferred concept for the Subject Property.

This will also include a review of the key policy directions endorsed by Council in June 2018, including the amended key policy direction #8 which was modified by Council to include the following language in bold text:

Enhance the Brant Street view corridor to frame views to the Brant Street Pier, and require a significant building setback from the west property line and define and consider a building setback from the thin red line and maximize the new and enhanced publicly accessible green/open space.

That “thin red line” concept came from the Plan B, a group of citizens that believe something much better can be done with the hotel site.

It was a solid idea but the city planners found a way to get rid of the idea.

At the January 23, 2018 Planning and Development Committee a council motion was carried to modify the block shown at the northeast corner of Brant Street and Lakeshore Road located in the proposed Cannery Precinct (22-storeys) to the Downtown Core Precinct with a maximum building height of 17-storeys including community benefits.

As a result of Council’s modification, the basis for the expanded public realm at the corner and enhanced setback limit was eliminated.

On April 26, 2018 City Council adopted a new Burlington Official Plan. On December 4, 2018, the Region of Halton issued a Notice of Non-Conformity to the City, which had the effect of extending the Region’s review process until such time as the Region determined that the non-conformity was rectified. While collaborating extensively with Regional staff on the issues of non-conformity the City undertook the scoped re-examination of the adopted Official Plan. This process took place while the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study was on hold.

Through the scoped re-examination of the New Official Plan Project in 2019-2020, the adopted Official Plan policies for the Downtown were studied. As part of that work the north-east corner of Brant Street and Lakeshore Road was revisited and was included within the Brant Main Street Precinct. The purpose of this precinct was to serve as a unique retail destination within the Downtown and city-wide.

The precinct provides a wide range of policies to guide development within the precinct. Specifically, related to built form, this precinct requires height not to exceed three (3) storeys within 20 metres of Brant Street and Lakeshore Road and eleven (11) storeys adjacent to John Street and beyond 20 metres of Brant Street and Lakeshore Road. In November 2020 the Region of Halton approved Burlington’s New Official Plan, which is currently under appeal.

The Subject Property was not included in the scoped re-examination of the New Official Plan Project and the new Official Plan did not change the existing land use designation and permitted building height for the Waterfront Hotel property located at 2020 Lakeshore Road.

Former city Councillor John Taylor in discussion with Linda Davies and Dee Dee Davies during one of the six public sessions that were held shortly after this Council was elected.  The Gazette was asked to leave the room, at the instructions of the Mayor, when the conversation between the stakeholders was taking place.

Next Steps
With the re-examination of the New Official Plan (Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown) Project completed, approval of the new Official Plan (under appeal), as well as the Minster of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s approval, with modifications, of the Regional Official Plan Amendment 48 it is the appropriate time to resume the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study.

City staff with support from the project consultant, The Planning Partnership, the group that is leading the consultation process will resume the workplan where it left off in 2018 to complete the study. The work is anticipated to take 16-17 weeks and will be completed within the original project budget. The resumption of the study will build upon and advance the previous work and community input to-date to develop a final preferred concept.

There is a much better solution on what can be done with the hotel site.

A small group is working at building public support for a different look at the waterfront hotel site that includes possible land swaps and building a new city hall on the property; something that would be four or five storeys high and include a purpose built Art Gallery.

Burlington can do better than the application before the Planning department.   There are limits on what developers should be able to do.

This is a story that is going to be around for some time.  It is your city.

Related news stories:

More on Plan B

Some ideas on what is possible

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Suddenly a development that is very controversial files an application to proceed and no one tells the public

By Pepper Parr

November 23rd, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

What is it this time you might ask?

Same old.

Developers doing what they seem to feel they have to do.

The one the Gazette has been watching is what we are calling the two Towers that Darko Vranich wants to put in the space now occupied by the Waterfront Hotel.

Developer filed their application on October 26th – no one told the people who are opposed to any additional high towers along Lakeshore Road.

The understanding we had was that the company, Lakeshore 2020, had yet to file a development application.

Not a bright future for an old hotel – what replaces it is the big question.

Not true – Lakeshore 2020 apparently filed an application on October 26th and at a meeting of City Council this afternoon the city planners are going to advise the Councillors that they do not want to accept the application because they believe it is not complete.

What we would like to know is – why does the public not get to learn the moment that an application had been filed.

One source has advised that the city planning department had 30 days to keep the application to themselves until they had assured themselves that it was complete. WE are not sure that is correct.

Not that it matters all that much at this point – what is really disturbing is the way members of council go mute and do not make any effort to inform the people.

Related news stories:

Plan B – worth more than a close look

Try a land swap and put city hall and the art gallery on the waterfront

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What happened to the Waterfront Hotel study that got mentioned in 2005 ? It doesn't seem to have a timeline - however, the owner of the hotel site has a timeline

By Pepper Parr

October 26th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

This is one of those chicken and egg situations – which came first ?

We’d like to revise that just a little bit and ask – which should come first?

The public was recently treated to a pre-application presentation by Bousfields, the planning consultants hired by Vrancorp to re-develop the Waterfront Hotel site.

The twin towers would change more than the skyline of the city.

The designs that were made public were stunning – but much of the public reaction was less than enthusiastic – what stunned them was the idea of putting two towers on Lakeshore Road, one that would be the highest in the city.

Nice buildings but not in Spencer Smith Park, was the predominant comment.

The two towers were proposed for what the planners called the iconic ground zero location – the intersection of Brant and Lakeshore Road where a 35 storey and a 30 story tower were to replace the nine storey hotel.

The site has been the focus point for a lot of planning – some of it going back more than a decade.

An agreement had been put in place to have a study done on how best to develop the hotel site and have it compliment Spencer Smith Park and the Promenade.

The area to be covered in the Waterfront Study that started back in 2005. At this point there isn’t a completion date – there is a report that is scheduled to go to Council in 1Q of 2022

Vrancor, the corporation that owns the hotel, is reported to have put up the $150,000 to have the study done. They are understandably upset. They paid for the study but the study was not completed. The city doesn’t have a planner assigned to the study – the most recent word is that the planning department will be getting something to council in 2022.
This may be one of those times when the horses are out of the barn and it’s too late to close the door.

In June 2018 Council went along with a revised Work Plan for the study that was to be completed by Q1 of 2019, (This was before Meed Ward became Mayor.)

The re-thinking of what could be done with the site goes back to 2005 with a follow up report in 2006.

There was a subsequent site-specific policy requiring that a planning study process be completed prior to any redevelopment of the subject site.

Residents at a workshop setting out their ideas with planner Thomas Walker.

The 2018 report called for a high quality of urban design reflecting the landmark nature of this site, that “shall be contingent upon the completion of a master plan to the satisfaction of City Council.”

Public meeting to consider what the waterfront area should include.

In 2015 Council approved the terms of reference for the Waterfront Hotel Lands Planning Study.

In 2017 the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study was publicly launched, beginning with a pair of visioning workshops in May.

In November of 2018 the site’s significance was affirmed at the Planning and Development Committee meeting, evidenced by a number of delegations that presented a varied set of interests and development concepts.

A series of drawings that got whittled down to two Preferred Concept – and that as far as the study of the Waterfront Hotel site has gone.

At this point, 2018, the public had a series of drawings that resulted in two preferred concepts for development.

A group known as Plan B inserted itself into the process with their position that a thin red line be drawn beyond which there would be no development west of the hotel site.

Despite extensive engagement opportunities, a clear consensus on direction had not yet been achieved. Staff then built upon the consultation work done through three community workshops (a total of six sessions); what came out of the Planning and Development Committee held on November 28, 2017, and significant contributions from the Vrancor Group and the Plan B Citizen Group; they created key policy directions to move forward.

The key policy directions were intended to align with the vision statement, accommodate an iconic landmark building, and reinforce the site’s unique location as a major gateway to the waterfront.

One of two renderings of what the site might look like. The entrance to the development would be from John Street not Brant

 

Early concept didn’t have the height that was shown in the pre-application presentation.

The key policy directions have been organized around the study’s three frameworks and guiding design principles of Land Use and Built Form, Public Realm, and Mobility and Access, as follows:  Land use and built form and Public Realm are important and it is vital that everyone share the same understanding as to just what this means.

Land Use and Built Form
1) Create building frontages along Lakeshore Road and Elizabeth Street with building placement that establishes a defining street wall and frames the street zone.
2) Provide active uses at grade along Lakeshore Road and Elizabeth Street.
3) Achieve active and animated edges adjacent to Spencer Smith Park, with a requirement for retail and service commercial uses at grade:
a. Built form next to the south property line shall activate and animate this edge, respect the existing grade, and be scaled to the waterfront trail with higher levels stepping back as necessary.
b. Built form next to the west property line shall activate and animate this edge, respect the existing grade, and be scaled to Spencer Smith Park with higher levels stepping back as necessary.
4) Require a minimum of two uses within buildings and where feasible, encourage three uses.
5) Establish an iconic landmark building on the site subject to the following:

a. A new public, pedestrian space is provided at the foot of Brant Street where public views to the Lake and Pier are enhanced;
b. The iconic landmark building must contain a destination use or function;
c. The iconic landmark building shall enhance the City of Burlington’s image/identity.
6) Require design excellence in all matters of architecture, landscape architecture, sustainable and urban design and require that all public and private development proposals on or adjacent to the site be evaluated/reviewed by the Burlington Urban Design Advisory Panel.

An unobstructed view of the Pier from Brant Street was objective number 1 for almost everyone.

Public Realm
7) Protect public view corridors to Lake Ontario from Brant and Elizabeth Streets, and where possible John Street.
8) Enhance the Brant Street view corridor to frame views to the Brant Street Pier, and require a significant building setback from the west property line.
9) Create new and enhanced publicly accessible green/open space, which would include new north-south pedestrian connections between Lakeshore Road and Spencer Smith Park (mid-block and along the site’s edges).
10) Minimize changes to the existing grade along the southern edge of the site and enhance the interface with Spencer Smith Park.
11) Integrate a public washroom within the future redevelopment; with an entrance that is accessible, highly visible and within close proximity to Spencer Smith Park.
12) Identify opportunities for the placement of public art on and adjacent to the site.
Staff was to continue with background work and in early 2019, re-start the process with a refreshed look and feel building on the above policy directions. This will include a revised work plan and new public engagement plan which leverages the city’s newest communication and engagement software and tools.

Changes to the existing land use designation and permitted building height are not included in the new Official Plan – as it was in the then current Official Plan – not the one that the new Council adopted in 2019.

The process would involve a site-specific amendment to the Official Plan at such time as the study is completed by the City and approved by City Council.

What muddies up a clear understanding was the existence then of a downtown mobility hub, that problem was resolved; then a change in the Urban Growth Centre boundary.

The ICBL – Interim Control By Law was imposed and then the world was hit with a pandemic brought about by the Covid19 virus.

We are now at the point where a sense or normality seems to be returning.

Add to that a frenetic increase in the development applications that required the city to hire more than a dozen new planners.
Then along comes the planner for the hotel site owner saying they were tired of waiting and did a pre-application presentation that shocked many.

That pre-application is the beginning of a process that has a ticking clock.

The towers are closer than many realize – closer to the street than the hotel on the site.

So back to that first question:  which should come first – the completion of the Waterfront Study or the accepting of a development application.

There is an important connection between this Waterfront Study and the City’s new Official Plan, the Downtown Mobility Hub Area Specific Plan, the City’s Transportation Plan, Cycling Master Plan, Community Trails Strategy, the Transit Plan and the Tall Building and Downtown Streetscape Guidelines, all of which are necessary to ensure that redevelopment of the subject property meets the City’s urban design and growth management goals, as well as enhances the adjacent public space and waterfront.

People began asking – what about the Waterfront Hotel Study and wondering how a pre-application presentation could be done before the study was complete.

There is a lot riding on what is to be built on the hotel site; people are getting anxious.

Will the downtown core begin to look like the Toronto waterfront where a lot of the land south of the Gardner Expressway is studded with towers that limit the view of Lake Ontario?

Not much is being heard from the politicians – they have taken the view that they can’t say much at this point without being accused of being biased.

The point at which they feel they can comment is when planning staff produce their report that either recommends that a development proceed, or that the development not proceed or that they should continue working with the developer.

The stickler at this point is this: the city has 120 days to produce their report to council – something that is close to impossible for a development of this size.

Once the 120 point has been met the developer has the right to go to the Ontario Land Tribunal to ask for permission to proceed with the development.

Burlington has not done very well at the tribunal level, partly many feel because of the direction that comes out of Burlington’s legal department.

With all those agencies commenting the project begins to create some momentum that it might not be possible to hold in check.

The Gazette has made the telling of this story a mission.

The people of Burlington are going to have to make it a mission to ensure that Council hears what they think and feel.

In the next 13 months we are going to go through a provincial election and a municipal election.  The strategy for those who care about where growth takes place and the kind of growth that takes place should be a mission as well.

Related news stories:

The pre-application presentation

Is there a different approach to how the site can be used?  A land swap perhaps?

 

 

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Ontario Municipal Board hearing on the Adi Development Group proposal to build 26 storeys at the Martha - Lakeshore Road intersection to begin on Wednesday. It might be a very short hearing.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

February 20th, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Wednesday morning at 10:00 am the person chairing the Ontario Municipal Board (OMB) hearing will call the meeting to order and the scheduled 10 day hearing will begin.

Those attending might see some rabbits pulled out of a hat as the Adi development Group begin their argument that they should be given approval to build their now 26 storey condominium on the comer of Martha and Lakeshore Road.

nautique-elevation-from-city-july-2016

In terms of design the proposed building i several grades above what Burlington has seen in the past the level o intensification and the location are what have citizens upset.

The last OMB level event was a request the ADI Development Group made to have their argument go to mediation.

There has not been a report from the OMB on how the mediation process went – did it even take place?

If it did was the mediation successful and if it was successful what did the mediator conclude?

The OMB meeting on Wednesday might be to have the OMB officer hearing the arguments decide to accept the recommendation from the mediator.

There hasn’t been a word from either the city or the OMB.

This mess, and that is the only fair word to apply to the 23 month saga that began at the end of March in 2015, when the city failed to make a decision on the application the Adi Group made to build what was originally a 28 storey stricture at the intersection.

The rules call for the city to respond to an application to either approve or not approve an application to revise the Official Plan within 180 days. These are often site specific revisions to the Official Plan.

The city got their lines crossed and was not able to give the developer an answer – the Adi group went to the OMB very shortly after the 180 day period ended.

The Adi Development Group had every right to do what they did even though the practice has been to allow some leeway. It was evident that Adi was quite prepared to bulldoze their way through the process.

ADI Nautique detailed sketch

The site for the planed condominium was enlarged when Adi did a property swap with the Carnacelli group. The block between Martha and Pearl is now owned by the two developers – if the Adi development is approved – watch for a second building the same height to go up in that block. Is there no limit to what the Burlington market can absorb in the way of new residential units?

Adi, perhaps realizing that they had a problem, did a land swap with another developer that had a small property to the north of the site making it larger – they reduced the height by two storeys as well.

The city had every right to ask the OMB to not hear the application because it was now a new and different proposal. The city chose to not force that argument. Had they done so Adi would have had to reapply for whatever they wanted from the city.

The city in essence gave Adi a pass.

It has been a badly managed file on the part of the city from almost the day the proposal was made public at a public meeting at the Art Gallery of Burlington.

Wednesday morning we will see what direction the OMB takes.  This one could go in almost any direction.

The city solicitor, the city manager, members of city council know if there is a recommendation from a mediator.

If there is – the plot thickens.

Two sources, both close to this story are suggesting that the city has gone along with a structure that will be 18 storeys in height.

Adi - Saud and Tarif

The Adi brothers.

A developer working in the same general area has said that in order to make a profit the Adi people need approval for eighteen storeys.

The Mayor has asked several people what they thought of a ten storey structure.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward has stick to her guns and said that the Official Plan and zoning for that property allows eight storeys and that is what she wants to see approved.

The property along the north side of Lakeshore Road between Pearl and Martha is owned by two developers.

Should the OMB hearing decide that Adi is to be given the right to build 26 storeys expect to see some almost identical built on the western side of that block.

wer

A 19 storey condominium plus a parking garage plus a medical building approved for this site. One block south and one block west the same developer is proposing a 26 storey tower opposite city hall.

Brant Street rendering

Partial view of a proposed development opposite city hall on Brant Street.

With the Carriage gate development now underway at Maria between Elizabeth and John Street going up 19 stories and another Carriage Gate development announced for James Street and Brant, opposite city hall the downtown core of Burlington will not resemble anything like the city many people seem to want – something quieter and small – and with less traffic.

Speaking of traffic – where do things stand on the road diet pilot study the city is struggling with on New Street between Guelph Line and Walkers Line?

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City gets told to put more money on the table if it wants to own LaSalle Park - and to find another Fire Chief as well.

News 100 redBy Staff

January 23rd, 2017

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It was a tough week for city manager James Ridge: he lost his Fire Chief, one of the best the city has had in some time and he learned that Hamilton wasn’t going to sell him the land around LaSalle Park in the city’s west end.

For a number of historical reasons that defy simple explanation – Hamilton owns a chunk of land inside Burlington’s borders.

The city, Burlington has been trying to buy it back – they currently rent the land for $1 a year on a lease that end in 2022.

The waterfront park, just south of Plains Road, includes a marina, baseball diamonds, a splash pad, picnic areas, bocce courts and a pavilion operating as a banquet facility.

Despite painstaking efforts to end a long-standing oddity, Hamilton will be holding onto its green space in Burlington for years to come.

LaSalle Park - aerial

LaSalle Park – a 22 acre property inside city of Burlington borders and owned by the city of Hamilton who rent it to Burlington for $1 a year.

Following a closed-door meeting last week Hamilton Councillors voted 8-6 to reject transferring ownership of LaSalle Park to Burlington in exchange for a complicated cash and land swap.

Details of the proposal remain confidential, but, according to several Councillors, there simply wasn’t enough money on the table for such prime waterfront property.

Mayor Rick Goldring says he’s disappointed the “win-win” deal was rejected.  “I believe what we offered was very fair. This was really a negotiated proposal that came from their staff as well as our staff.”

Hamilton owns the 22-hectare (54 acre) Aldershot park on Burlington’s North Shore Boulevard for historical reasons, but since 1983 has leased it to Burlington, which maintains and operates it, for $1 a year.
The lease expires in 2022. Last year, both councils directed their city managers to come up with a proposal to permanently resolve the anomaly.

LaSalle Pacillion

Operated as a banquet hall and location for meetings the LaSalle Pavilion is popular.

A third party appraiser was jointly hired to assess the value of the land. Because the proposal was presented in camera, the details are not known but it’s believed Hamilton was offered a low-end six figure purchase price.
For reasons that remain unclear, the proposal also included a land swap with the Royal Botanical Gardens, whose lands straddle both cities.

For his part, Hamilton Mayor Fred Eisenberger supported the deal as a “good neighbourly thing to do” based on market value.

“I thought it was fair and equitable, and I thought it was an opportunity to fix an historical anomaly that would create some value for everyone.”

Ridge and Chris Murray - city managers

Burlington city manager with Hamilton’s city manager Chris Murray at a Bay Area Economic Summit last year – they weren’t able to come to terms on a price for the LaSalle Park property which Hamilton owns.

Because Councillors also voted to take no further action, Eisenberger says the ball is in Burlington’s court if it wants to make another overture that might be more acceptable to the majority of Councillors.

Goldring says Burlington isn’t in any rush. “We’ve taken a shot at this. Our lease comes due in 2022. We have a pretty good deal right now. We lease the park for $1 a year so there wasn’t a whole bunch of sense of urgency to deal with this.”

Why does Hamilton own a piece of land inside Burlington’s borders? That goes back to when the Region of Halton was created. A Hamilton resident claims it was purchased in 1915 for $50,000 by Hamilton, the inflation adjusted value is $1,019,000 today.

The land cannot be developed into condos or apartments or housing – it is a park.

Burlington was originally to be part of Hamilton when regional governments were being set up. The province promised Hamilton the Aldershot community (including Hamilton’s RBG lands and LaSalle) if Hamilton would “shut up and go away” – accept regional government without Burlington. Instead, influenced by Burlington PC MPP G. Kerr, the governing PCs double-crossed Hamilton and instead included Aldershot with Burlington and making it part of the Halton Region.

Why does Hamilton own a piece of land inside Burlington’s borders? That goes back to when the Region of Halton was created A Hamilton resident believes it was purchased in 1915 for $50,000 by Hamilton, the inflation adjusted value is $1,019,000 today.

The land cannot be developed into condos or apartments or housing – it is a park.

Burlington was originally to be part of Hamilton when regional governments were being set up. 18

The Province promised Hamilton Aldershot (including Hamilton’s RBG lands and LaSalle) if Hamilton would “shut up and go away” (accept regional government without Burlington). Instead, influenced by Burlington PC MPP G. Kerr, the governing PCs double-crossed Hamilton and instead included Aldershot with Burlington (and Halton Region).

Tony Bavota - fire chief

Fire chief Tony Bavota quite and heads for a senior job with the Toronto Fire department.

As for the Fire Chief deciding there were better career goals for him in Toronto – we lost a good one. Tony Bavota tightened up operations at the Fire department and did the necessary work to ensure that Emergency measure matters were in the hands of the people who had had the experience needed to manage tough situations.

Bavota steps into his office in Toronto on February 6th.

getting new - yellow

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As much as three years of citizens complaints about construction disruption while the smartest development the city has seen in 25 years gets underway on Lakeshore Road.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

April 12, 2016

BURLINGTON, ON

This isn’t the time of year for people to be out on the streets all that much – it’s still a little chilly.

For those who do venture to the edge of the lake and happen to wander east of the Waterfront hotel – they find themselves entering the early stages of a construction zone.
That lot that used to be home to the Riviera is now just mud with pieces of equipment scattered around the site.

Bridgewater - drill - bore hole

It could be taken for some kind o armament – but it is a drill that bores into the ground.

Fencing is in place and those “must wear a hard hat” signs are beginning to go up. Earlier in the week there was a tall – maybe three storey’s high – rig on the property. Bore holes were being drilled.

Bruno Kresina, the construction project manager, wasn’t on hand to explain what was going on.

The piece of land was home to the sales office – that was torn down a couple of weeks ago. The large six foot by six foot scale model of the Bridgewater project was put in storage – it will show up again when the new sales office is opened.

For a while the use of office space in the downtown core east of Brant was close to a game of musical chairs. Mayrose Tyco owners of the five storey tower on the north edge of the Elizabeth Street parking as well as the owners of the Bridgewater development, had rented space to the Joseph Brant Hospital Foundation. They were set up on the ground floor of the building while the parking lot at the Joseph Brant hospital underwent a massive re-development re-build that is costing the taxpayers $60 million – with the hospital foundation raising a second $60 million.

Bridgewater Aerial-rendering-1024x758

A drawing setting out where the different buildings will b situated and the open space for public access.

With the hospital foundation out of the space, Jeff Paikin and his New Horizons Development group can move their sales offices into the space. Not they need all that much of a sales office space – they are said to be past the 70% sold point – and that must be true because the bankers don’t release the cash until sales are at that magic 70% level.
And so now the construction begins.

Details

This is what the south side of Lakeshore is going to look like sometime in 2018 – there will be public access to the lake in between the hotel on the right and the condominium of the left. It won’t be a very wide opening.

It’s a complex set up. The development was approved by city council in 1995 – it was to be a “legacy” project that had been in the minds of the Mayrose Tyco people before 1985. There were some land swaps that squared the assembled land – and a couple of close calls when Conservation Halton, who had grandfathered the development a long time ago but were beginning to get impatient.

Mayrose Tyco brought in the Mady Group to build what was to be a 22 storey condominium and a seven storey condominium plus a seven storey hotel that edged up to eight storeys.

The first hotel was to be a Delta – that got upgraded to a Marriott – which is some distance from the old Riviera motel.

Mady ran into financial problems – Mayrose Tyco took them off the building of the development and asked Paikin if he would take on the construction.
Paikin had already bought a unit in the seven story condominium – he was now going to build his new home.

Bridgewater - road alignment Apr 12-16

You are looking at what is going to be pretty close to the new street – sidewalk alignment on the south side of Lakeshore immediately east of Elizabeth street.

LogoIt will be a couple of years before the any moving vans arrive – the residents of the city have a couple of years to complain about the construction disruptions.

When it is completed – the waterfront will be a much different place.

Save the news feedThe construction of the pier and now this luxury level hotel and some very high end condominiums, which will be described as the finest buildings to live in the GTA. Better than Oakville?

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Bruce Krushelnicki leaves city hall to enjoy the first summer vacation he has had since he joined the city 11 years ago.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

June 1, 2105

BURLINGTON, ON

Today is the first day of a summer vacation he never had in the years he was been with the Planning department in Burlington.

At some point all the data and all the public input gets placed in front of Burlington's Planner, Bruce Kruselniiki - who will issue a report and city council will make decisions.  Creating the downtown the city wants and needs has not been an easy process for Burlington.

Bruce  Krushelnicki was frequently at the table working with citizens, listening to their ideas and explaining the why and how things were done.  The reports his department issued were frequently as good as they get in the planning business.

Lakeshore looking east to Brant north side

Insisting that there be commercial space at grade level was not an easy conversation with the developers of the Buntin Wharf project on Lakeshore Road between Locust and Brant – imagine that part of the city without this look?

Bruce Krushelnicki left city hall on Friday afternoon and summarized for the Gazette what he managed to get done during his time with the city and some of the things that haven’t happened yet.

Planners build on the shoulders of the people who came before them explained Krushelnicki I didn’t plan the Alton Community – my job was to implement the plan and ensure that the original design was adhered to.

Krushelnicki was heavily involved in the creation and implementation of the Plains Road Village Vision (PRVV) which has changed radically the road that used to be the only one that got you to Niagara Falls.

We had to do a lot of talking to the Shoppers Drug Mart people to get them to see things our way – we wanted the entrance to the store open to the street and they did build the door – but it is locked.

We wanted a two story building – and they did that – now there are doctors’ offices on that second floor – what better place to have a doctor’s office.

Plains Road is no longer just a major traffic artery – it has been going through a process of change for a number of years – that job is far from finished.

Getting developers to see the longer term potential for their properties can be a time consuming process explained K. We had many conversations with the Molinaro’s about street level store fronts on the Buntin wharf property that stretched between Locust and Brant. Can you imagine Brant Lakeshore Road without that stretch of patio space?   They make that part of the city feel like parts of Europe added Krushelnicki.

For some developers talking wasn’t enough and the building permit they had been issued was pulled. Drewlo learned that lesson when they made major changes to the way vehicles were going to enter and leave the underground garage of the multi building apartment complex they were building on Plains Road.

Maranantha-revisions-8-and-7

Early version of the Maranatha design had more massing then the planning department was prepared to accept.

Maranantha-6-storey-version

After a lot of negotiating and discussion the final look of the Maranatha project looked like this. Preparing the land for construction has begun

The Maranatha project on New Street that is now having the land prepared for construction was another project that Krushelnicki believes benefited from intervention by the Planning department. The building has significant massing and even though it was set back from the street further than most people realized it was a large building. By tapering the ends and creating a large glass section in the middle the building is much easier to look at.

There are those who still feel it doesn’t fit in with the neighbourhood to which Krushelnicki replies – neighbourhoods change – they are supposed to change – but at a pace that fits with where planners feel the city is going.

Most of the two storey properties on Brant Street have four storey zoning as of right and can get eight storeys once they have worked with the planning department to ensure that what is planned fits in with what the residents of the community – and the city believe is appropriate for the area.

Krushelnicki knows now that the malls created in the 70’s do not meet the needs of the community the way they once did and that they need to be re-developed to include a residential and commercial component.

Making more efficient use of land will mean changing the way some sectors of the local economy use the space they have. Krushelnicki points to Mississauga where they created a part of the city that was for the automotive sector. Burlington doesn’t have that Krushelnicki of space available anywhere in the city but Krushelnicki does see the possibility of automotive dealers going up rather than continually going sideways.

The land at the corner of Fairview and Brant has too much value to serve as a parking lot for used cars – the same would apply to the automotive dealers along Fairview and Guelph Line. The planning department did have conversations with most of the automotive dealers in town to talk about different configurations that could be used. “They weren’t ready for a change yet” explained Krushelnicki at a committee meeting.

In the world of planning and development the Ontario Municipal Board is the 800 pound elephant in the room – it is an organization Krushelnicki understand very well. He served as an OMB Commissioner for a period of time and wrote one of the more definitive texts on just how the OMB works.

Lksh Riveria looking east

The walkway that was built at the bottom of what was once the infamous Rivieria Motel was the result of a land swap Krushelnicki put together with Mayrose Tyco the developers of the property that will house a 22 storey, a seven story condominium plus an 8 storey hotel. The hotel was originally going to be open for the Pan Am games which isn’t something you can blame on the now retired planner,

While many of the decisions on what would be built on the waterfront were made before Krushelnicki  joined the city as the planner 11 years ago he does get credit for coming up with a land swap that extended the waterfront the public could use a little further to the east and gave the people who were developing what is today called the Bridgewater hotel.

Burlington currently has a major case before the OMB – the ADI development on Martha and Lakeshore that he won’t say a word about because it is before the board.

Krushelnicki taught for twelve years and has until very recently done some teaching at Ryerson and Waterloo. Is there some teaching for a man who is in excellent shape and still holds his truck driver’s license.

There are those who believe Krushelnicki never stopped teaching. On numerous occasions when there was a planning issue of some significance one could see all the junior members of the Planning department in the council chamber – many of them taking notes. And there were always a number of the senior members watching a master at the craft of explaining how planning is supposed to work.

Downtown precincts

The concept of precincts to define neighborhoods was an approach Bruce Krushelnicki brought to Burlington’s Official Plan

Burlington is in the process of re-writing its Official Plan. The Plan that was approved in 2006 was a Krushelnicki creation. We created a precinct approach and grouped interest and gave them a precinct name and applied zoning development guidelines to them. While the word “neighbourhoods: didn’t actually appear in the official plan – it was vital from Krushelnicki point of view that the way people had organized themselves in the city be respected.

Krushelnicki didn’t live in Burlington but he had a feel for the city that must have run through his mind as he came over the Skyway Bridge and saw it set out before him.

The people writing the new Official Plan are all Krushelnicki prodigies – his finger prints will be all over the document.

Krushelnicki did have his detractors. Many felt he was too restrictive and that he didn’t manage his staff as well as he might. He certainly had strong views and had little difficulty making them know. What made Bruce Krushelnicki so different was the way he would frame and arrange his comments.

He certainly had the best tailor in town and would not take off his jacket when making a presentation. One could not even imagine Krushelnicki wearing a pair of those plaid trousers golfers tend to wear.

During what was really an oration at a Committee of the Whole recently at the LaSalle Park Pavilion the sun was shining directly onto Krushelnicki’s back and the beads of perspiration on his forehead were showing. One of his senior staff who was within his line of sight patted her hip a number of times.

I wasn’t quite sure what she was doing or why – but realized she was sending her boss a signal.  The staff member knew that Bruce Krushelnicki always kept a fresh handkerchief in his jacket pocket; she was trying to remind him that it was there.

The staff within the planning department for the most part adored the man. He treated his people with respect and saw his major role as one of developing them and making them better civil servants.

Krushelnicki was without a doubt the most literate senior staff member the city has. During the crafting of the Strategic Plan in 2011, when asked what form it should take, Krushelnicki said keep it to two pages and write it in Latin.

Tim Horton property - top of bank issue

Krushelnicki must have explained what “top of bank”meant to citizens groups more than 1000 times while he was Director of Planning for the city.

During his time as Burlington’s planner he must have explained what “top of bank” meant more than 1000 times – he also tirelessly explained that approval of some height density on one lot did not serve as a precedent for every lot in the neighbourhood.

Krushelnicki had a style that was very much his own. His ethics were beyond reproach, he had that old school politeness about him and more often than not he knew what he was doing and why he made the decisions he made

Krushelnicki was no where near retirement age – but some took the position that his time had come.

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Everyone benefits from the homeless who live at the Riviera Motel. They get lousy digs but a great view.

By Pepper Parr

BURLINGTON, ON July 11, 2011 – This business of municipal politics can get pretty sticky and complicated.

Try this on for size. A developer, Mayrose Tycon has the right to put up a building that can reach 21 stories into the sky on the property that is home to the Riviera on the Lake Motel, located to the east of the Waterfront Hotel on the south side of Lakeshore Road. The height and density of the structure are basically cast in stone. What it will actually look like isn’t known yet.

At a Waterfront Advisory meeting a few months ago committee member Michael O’Sullivan passed around a news clipping from 1995 that showed a drawing of what the developer had in mind back then. It is pretty close to what people understand the plans being talked about now are calling for.

Mayrose Tycon have been trying to put together a deal since 1995 with a company that would do the actual building and take over the property, but haven’t yet found the right company to partner with. Minto and Tridel, two very large, well established builders walked away from the opportunity. Mayrose Tycon is now talking to a major mid level hotel group about a possible deal that would be a combination of hotel and condominium.

The close to defunct Save our Waterfront people were worried that a structure would go up that prevented a view of the lake. While the height and density of whatever is built is a done deal, the actual site plan is something the community has been assured they would have some say in.

But as Jeff Marten, a member of the Waterfront Advisory Committee, said at a recent meeting: “I would like to be alive when the ground for construction is broken.” That isn’t going to be this year and many wondered if the Pier would be completed before shovels went into the ground for the 21 storey landmark structure.

Ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward has been telling her constituents that she is “on the file” but there isn’t very much she can do except prod and probe and ask questions which she did at a recent meeting with the Mayrose Tycon people.

Is there a by-law enforcement officer that would let the badly damaged floor of the motel room balcony at the Riviera Motel remain the way it is if they knew about the condition.  They know now.

Is there a by-law enforcement officer that would let the badly damaged floor of the motel room balcony at the Riviera Motel remain the way it is if they knew about the condition. They know now.

A lot of people would like to see the building torn down because it is something of an eye sore – and who by the way would want to stay in the motel – it looks like a dump. Well – guess what; both the city and the region have an interest in keeping the dumpy looking motel right where is it, thank you. And the developer doesn’t mind one bit – renting out rooms in the motel brings in some revenue

The revenue stream is your tax dollars – money the Regional govern pays Mayrose Tycon for the use of the motel as a place to house homeless people. And as of last Friday the place was full.

There is an interesting aspect to all this and that is for a city that talks about making the waterfront accessible to the public, precious little is actually done to improve the access.

A Waterfront Advisory sub-committee recently did an excellent piece of investigative work to find out just how many “windows on the to the lake” there actually are – good report – that has gone exactly nowhere. Meed Ward hasn’t brought up the matter at a Council committee nor has Councillor Craven. Grahame Richards, who was part of the group that did the field work on the report said he couldn’t add much more: “the people at city hall aren’t answering their phones these day.”

The Mayor sits on the Waterfront Advisory Committee – has he asked legal to look into those situation where private property owners whose property abuts public property have taken steps to actually prevent the public from getting to the edge of the lake.

Lots of issues regarding the lakefront getting to the waters edge and then being a bit stunned when you see the condition of at least one of the buildings. Comes pretty close to being the kind of building run by slum landlords.

There is more than just the one damaged balcony – much of the building probably doesn’t meet building or safety codes.  Why hasn’t the city done something about this situation?  Because it houses homeless people?  Because the Region is renting the building?

There is more than just the one damaged balcony – much of the building probably doesn’t meet building or safety codes. Why hasn’t the city done something about this situation? Because it houses homeless people? Because the Region is renting the building?

Were the public able to walk along the pathway at the lake edge in front of the Riviera Motel they would see the deplorable condition that building is in.

A close look at the building suggests the city’s by law enforcement people might want to take a look at the condition of the structure. But bylaw enforcement in Burlington is a reactive process – they respond to complaints and no one so far has complained. That is about to change.

The Medical Officer of Health might also want to take a look at the structure. Maybe that department is also reactive as opposed to being proactive.

The Riviera has been around for a long time, still has guests who have one of the best views in the city.  At the edge of the property there is a brand new walkway – waiting for the public to stroll along the waters edge where they can gaze upon a dumpy looking eyesore.

The Riviera has been around for a long time, still has guests who have one of the best views in the city. At the edge of the property there is a brand new walkway – waiting for the public to stroll along the waters edge where they can gaze upon a dumpy looking eyesore.

The city gets tax revenue on the property and the developer wanting to get something in the way of a return for the property, rents the units to the Region who use it to house homeless people and immigrants that the Region has to house.

Someone suggested that the city could rent the motel and the land around it from the developer for $1 a year and demolish the eyesore and use the land as a temporary, short term park; and given that this project has been on hold for at least 15 years the public could benefit. Might be a good idea – depends on what the taxes are on the property. Sounds good, seems to have some merit. Why not give it a shot?

The city could enter into an agreement with Mayrose Tycon to forgive the property taxes as long as the city uses the land for a public park. When the developer eventually has a partner who is ready to actually build the city gives up the space as parkland and lets the construction equipment in.

You can get to the walkway that gets you to the edge of the lake – all you have to do is slip through the fence and then wander along till you meet up with the eastern edge of Spencer Smith Park – great view of the unfinished Pier from this location.

You can get to the walkway that gets you to the edge of the lake – all you have to do is slip through the fence and then wander along till you meet up with the eastern edge of Spencer Smith Park – great view of the unfinished Pier from this location.

There was a bit of a land swap involved in the assembly of the property that will at some point become the city’s one skyscraper. A small patch of city land was traded and the developer ceded the right to a small strip of property at the water’s edge that is ready today for pedestrians to stroll along – problem is- the pathway isn’t open to the public. The walkway is in place and will eventually join up with Spencer Smith Park

But don’t hold your breath waiting for either Councillors Meed Ward or Craven to propose this at a Council committee meeting and put forward a Staff Direction to have this looked into. Even if they did, the City Manager would bury this one for a couple of years.

If the motel were torn down the Region wouldn’t have a shelter for the homeless and, while the place is a dump, Burlington doesn’t want to get into a discussion about building a homeless shelter – that would bring out every NIMBY (Not In My Backyard) in the city howling at a council committee meeting. Disappointing, that a city with so much cannot find its way to actively looking for a place to build a shelter for the homeless. We manage to raise money for just about every other group but we’re not very good at helping the truly disadvantaged.

The best place for a shelter would be in either Wards 1 or 2 – can we expect Councillors Craven and Ward to ask the city to look for a suitable location in which to house the homeless and at the same time open up some lake front property for more parkland – even if it is going to be temporary. The location would be a great spot for the sidewalk superintendents in the city to sit out in the fresh air and keep an eye on the Pier construction.

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Waterfront Study to re-start on the 15th - meanwhile Planning department processes an application to build two towers

By Pepper Parr

February 9th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City of Burlington Planning department is working feverishly on an application development to build two towers – one 35 and the other 30 storeys that will sit atop a five story podium.

This application has to be presented to council not later than April 15th or it can be taken to the Ontario Land Tribunal for a non-decision appeal.

Municipalities have 120 days to respond with a decision on a development application.

At the same time the City of Burlington is resuming work on the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study. When the study is completed, it will provide guidance in the redevelopment of this site.

Located next to two of Burlington’s most significant landmarks, Spencer Smith Park and the Brant Street Pier, the City is asking for input to make sure the new development reflects a high quality of urban design that enhances the community’s access to the waterfront and the downtown.

The fact that there is a development application for land in the centre of that waterfront study area would suggest that the die has already been cast.

Within the same general time frame, February 22nd, there is a Statutory Public meeting on the development application which will have the Planning department setting out the issues and the developer explaining what they plan to do.

Virtual Public Open House – Feb. 15
Residents are invited to join a virtual public open house to talk about the study process and hear from City staff and the consultant team, The Planning Partnership, who will present the preferred concept plan for the site. There will be a Q & A period following the presentation. The open house is on:
Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022
7 to 8:30 p.m.
Zoom or dial +1 647 374 4685 by telephone and enter meeting ID 813 0521 1078

Residents also have the opportunity to learn more about the planning study on the City’s online engagement platform, Get Involved Burlington.

The Waterfront Hotel Planning Study is separate from the development application process.  This sentence fails to add that there is an application for development approval before the Planning department now.

2020 Lakeshore Rd. Statutory Public Meeting – Feb. 22
The City will hold a Statutory Public Meeting under the Planning Act to consider the City staff report concerning the development application for 2020 Lakeshore Rd. City staff will be recommending that Council direct staff to continue to review and process the application. Due to COVID-19, this Statutory Public Meeting will be held virtually.

This meeting will take place on:

Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022
6:30 p.m.
Virtual Meeting that will be on the city web site

To view the meeting details, the Meeting Notice [PDF] or to register to delegate, visit burlington.ca/2020lakeshore.

This is the developers architectural rendering of what they would like to build.

Planning Study Background
In 2017 and 2018, the City began the planning study to guide the redevelopment of the waterfront site at Lakeshore Road and the foot of Brant Street, including the Waterfront Hotel at 2020 Lakeshore Rd. City staff gathered feedback through visioning workshops, public and stakeholder engagement.

In mid-2018, the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study was placed on hold due to other Council directed priorities such as the New Official Plan process.

On Jan. 11, 2022, City staff presented Council with a study update through staff report.

Why the study can resume
The City is able to resume the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study at this time because:

• the re-examination of the New Official Plan Project, including Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown, has been completed,

• approval of the new Official Plan (under appeal), as well as

• the Minster of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s approval, with modifications, of the Regional Official Plan Amendment 48.

City staff, with support from the project consultant, will pick up the work where it left off in 2018, and complete the study. The work is estimated to take four months and will use community input to-date to help develop a final preferred concept.

The City has this work remaining:
• Phase 4: Report and Recommendation of Preferred Land Use Concept, Q1 2022
This phase of the study involves the selection of a preferred concept and the preparation of a Planning Justification Report.
• Phase 5: Official Plan Policies, Zoning and Urban Design Guidelines, Q2 2022

The fifth phase of the study includes the development of draft site-specific official plan policies, zoning regulations and urban design and implementation guidelines. This phase will also include a public open house, presentation to Committee and final delivery of the implementing Official Plan Amendment and

Determining what should be built on the waterfront hotel property has gone through a number of concepts. The Waterfront study restart will pick up where things were back in 2019 when it was paused.

Marianne Meed Ward – moments before she was sworn in as Mayor.

Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward made the following comments:
“We know the Waterfront Hotel is a key site in our city, right next to our cherished downtown waterfront park. We know we have to get it right, and the time is now, with the Waterfront Hotel study starting up again, and an active application for redevelopment filed. We also need to ensure the public has every opportunity to share their feedback. That’s why Councillor Kearns and I worked together on a motion to direct staff to complete the study and the application review within the required statutory time frames — so we can record a decision as a community on this site, and not risk an appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal for non-decision within the deadline. The best way you can shape the future of what happens here is to participate in both the study, as well as the development application review. ”

Ward 2 City Councillor Lisa Kearns spoke a little more forcefully: “We have heard loud and clear that residents place an extraordinary value on Burlington’s Waterfront. Development concerning the Waterfront Hotel site is extremely important to Ward 2 residents and to residents across our city. The outcome of an active development proposal is paramount to the future of our Waterfront and Spencer Smith Park, not to mention our downtown businesses and residents alike.

Lisa Kearns – ward 2 Councillor

“I encourage everyone to get engaged with the study information, subscribe to the Get Involved page for updates and attend the meetings on the Hotel Study on Feb. 15. and the Statutory Public Meeting on Feb. 22. The City will make a decision on this planning file to ensure that the decision is made at the local level. Let’s come together to give our feedback and make sure the new development results in a property that supports the community’s waterfront and downtown experience.”

Related news stories:

Is there a better way to develop this critical part of the city?

If you haven’t heard of Plan B – check them out.

The Plan B web site:

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Waterfront study resumes February 15th; expected to last four months - meanwhile Planning staff work flat out to complete their work before an April 17th deadline.

By Pepper Parr

February 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City is resuming work on the Waterfront Hotel Site Planning Study.

When the study is completed, it will provide guidance in the redevelopment of this site.

The white dotted line is the boundary of the site – the dark blue in the centre is the site of the hotel property

Located next to two of Burlington’s most significant landmarks, Spencer Smith Park and the Brant Street Pier, the City is asking for input to make sure the new development reflects a high quality of urban design that enhances the community’s access to the waterfront and the downtown.

Virtual Public Open House – Feb. 15
Residents are invited to join a virtual public open house to talk about the study process and hear from City staff and the city consultant team, The Planning Partnership, who will present the preferred concept plan for the site. There will be a Q & A period following the presentation.

The open house is on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Zoom or dial +1 647 374 4685 by telephone and enter meeting ID 813 0521 1078

Residents also have the opportunity to learn more about the planning study on the City’s online engagement platform,

The Waterfront Hotel Planning Study is separate from the development application process.

And that is where this gets messy – very messy.

The Planning department is working furiously to have a report to Council before April 17 with either

A recommendation to approve the development
A recommendation to approve the development with changes
A recommendation to not approve the development.

The information given to the public last September was for two towers; one 30 storeys and the other 35 storey – both sitting on a five story podium.

The very painful truth with this development is that far too few people know very much about it.

The public first got wind of it when a pre-application community consultation took place.

Graphics and raw data on this project have been very difficult to come by – the Gazette had to threaten legal action to get a copy of what was a public report. The entrance to the site was to be from John Street, one block east of Brant. The light blue space in the very centre of this graphic will be a breezeway leading from Lakeshore to the steep steps that will lead into Spencer Smith Park. The light green will be amenity space for the tower residents. The tan coloured space will be open and where the public can gather The new hotel is shown in darker blue. The residential towers are in pink. The Gazette has not been able to have conversations with the developer’s planners.

The Gazette has been reporting on this situation for some time – all the way back to 2015 when the city was putting together some ideas as to just what could happen with the Waterfront Hotel site when it was eventually re-developed.

Centre – former city Councillor John Taylor in conversation with Linda Davies, owner of the leading condo real estate sales broker on the right and Dee Dee Davies at one of the public meetings in 2018

The city put together a process that had the developer agreeing to pay the full cost of a review that would include significant public input.

And those meetings took place – there were  four of them out of which came a number of concepts – but no consensus – and then for reasons which look pretty weak, the city put a pause on the waterfront study.

The developer didn’t pause.

As early as August, the Burlington Urban Design group was meeting and providing comment on the development.

They engaged planning consults and architects and met with people in the Planning department to advance their development application.

Members of Council knew what was taking place – but the public didn’t.

Members of Council are still saying very little – they have all taken the position that they cannot make statements until they have a Planning Staff report in front of them.

So here we are with two very different streams of activity taking place at the same time about the same piece of land

The developer pushing their application – and the city reviving a study that should have been completed years ago.

Close on the heals of the study re-start is a Statutory Public meeting required under the Planning Act that is to take place on February 22nd at 6:30 p.m.  It too will be a virtual meeting.

In a media release from City Hall on Thursday we learned that Planning Staff will be recommending that Council direct staff to continue to review and process the application.

Planning Study Background
In 2017 and 2018 (the Gazette interviewed a member of the Planning staff in 2015 on this study proposal) the City began looking at a planning study to guide the redevelopment of the waterfront site at Lakeshore Road and the foot of Brant Street, including the Waterfront Hotel at 2020 Lakeshore Road., City staff gathered feedback through visioning workshops, public and stakeholder engagement.

In mid-2018, the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study was placed on hold due to other priorities in the Community Planning Department.

A number of design concepts have come forward – no consensus yet.

Why the study can resume
In its media release the City said it is able to resume the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study at this time because:

• the re-examination of the New Official Plan Project, including Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown, has been completed,
• approval of the new Official Plan (under appeal), as well as
• the Minster of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s approval, with modifications, of the Regional Official Plan Amendment 48.

City staff, with support from the project consultant, will pick up the work where it left off in 2018, and complete the study. The work is estimated to take four months and will use community input to-date to help develop a final preferred concept.

The City has this work remaining:

Phase 4: Report and Recommendation of Preferred Land Use Concept, Q1 2022
This phase of the study involves the selection of a preferred concept and the preparation of a Planning Justification Report.

• Phase 5: Official Plan Policies, Zoning and Urban Design Guidelines, Q2 2022

The fifth phase of the study includes the development of draft site-specific official plan policies, zoning regulations and implementation guidelines. This phase will also include a public open house, presentation to Committee and final delivery of the implementing Official Plan Amendment and Zoning Bylaw Amendment.

It all gets messier and tighter in terms of time frames.

When a developer takes an application to the city – the Planning department has 120 days to make a recommendation to council.  That recommendation can be to not proceed or to proceed with changes or to give it a rubber stamp and tell the developer to bring in the cranes and start building.

The developers submitted their plan on December 17th, the Planning department told Council they didn’t think the application was complete.  There was a lot of scurrying around and the city was able to say that the application was indeed complete.  Close to 30 days of very valuable staff work was lost.  The city will tell you that there was no time lost – don’t believe them.

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns brought forward a motion at Council directing Staff to complete their work and make a presentation to Council before April 17th, 2022.   She wanted to be as certain as possible that the city did not find itself before the Ontario Land Tribunal for failing to deliver a report within that 120 requirement.

Nothing was to be built west of the line Plan B drew.

Included in all this are the brave efforts of Plan B – a small group of citizens who objected strongly to the concept designs that were being shown.  They had a concept that would keep development within a “thin red line”.

The city’s Mayor said: “We know the Waterfront Hotel is a key site in our city, right next to our cherished downtown waterfront park. We know we have to get it right, and the time is now, with the Waterfront Hotel study starting up again, and an active application for redevelopment filed.

“We also need to ensure the public has every opportunity to share their feedback. That’s why Councillor Kearns and I worked together on a motion to direct staff to complete the study and the application review within the required statutory time frames — so we can record a decision as a community on this site, and not risk an appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal for non-decision within the deadline.

“The best way you can shape the future of what happens here is to participate in both the study, as well as the development application review. We welcome your input and look forward to those discussions.”

Ward 2 City Councillor Lisa Kearns said: “We have heard loud and clear that residents place an extraordinary value on Burlington’s Waterfront. Development concerning the Waterfront Hotel site is extremely important to Ward 2 residents and to residents across our city. The outcome of an active development proposal is paramount to the future of our Waterfront and Spencer Smith Park, not to mention our downtown businesses and residents alike.

The development plans as they stand now will result in a Burlington few significantly than what is in place now.

Renderings that show the development relative to Spencer Smith Park and the Pier.

On the left is the view of the lake from Lakeshore Road at Brant. On the right the view from the same spot looking north up John Street.

What is at stake here is the heart of the city – Ground Zero – the intersection of Lakeshore Road and Brant Street and the look and feel of the downtown core for decades.

How different city Councils let things get to the point we are at now boggles the imagination.

Related news stories:

Plan B was trying to get some traction within the Planning department and with the public.

The time line of a very sad story.

Are there other options.

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Waterfront development: likely to be the top story in 2022

By Pepper Parr

January 1st, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

Sticky bit of news came out the last few weeks of last year.  It will probably be the top story between now and the municipal election this October.

The hotel is set back from the street, does not loom over the road, gives a clear line of site to the Pier

On a site referred to by the planner for the developer as Burlington’s Ground Zero, there are plans to demolish the existing Waterfront Hotel and build two towers: one 35 storeys, the other 30 storeys.

What makes it sticky is some of the politics.  The city has created a new Official Plan that still has a few steps to go before it is THE Official Plan.

There were changes in where growth was to take place in the plan.  More than 40 organizations have filed appeals against different parts of the Official Plan – which is not all that unusual.

The podium will butt up against the street and have the two towers on top

What was unusual is the grandfathering of a development application that city council has said is not complete.

For the average Burlingtonian all this politicking doesn’t get much attention – however the eventual results will have a very significant impact on Spencer Smith Park which is seen as the jewel in the crown that is the city’s waterfront.

A small group of people formed Plan B – which sets out what the downtown lake edge and the core of the city could look like – if only there were real citizen input.

Plan B really wants your help.

They are arguing that it is your city and you deserve the right to have input on decisions made.

On the political side the provincial Minister of Housing announced that the incomplete application to redevelop the Waterfront Hotel site would be grandfathered, that it will come under the old Urban Growth centre.

From this – the site as it is today…

 

... to this. The planning proposal currently before the city.

You may have heard that the application for the Waterfront Hotel redevelopment was submitted to Steve Clark, Ontario Minister Of Municipal Affairs & Housing, on November 10th, effectively eliminating two intensification arguments (MTSA & UGC designations) used by developers trying to justify increasingly high condo developments downtown.

That’s all true… but did you know that the City in a 7-0 unanimous vote of Council supported the Planning Department’s recommendation to deem the application incomplete.

It seemed logical to the PLAN B group that this application should be re-submitted when it was complete.

For those who care about how the downtown core of the city is developed and what happens to Spencer Smith Park the Plan B people ask you to “Stay tuned, because things have just gotten a lot more interesting!”

Follow what they are up to on their Facebook page. Click HERE

Related news stories:

There are other options

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Follow up on the proposed Waterfront Hotel redevelopment

By Pepper Parr

October 9th, 2021

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The pre-application presentation, that the city planning department requires of a developer before they submit an application, was put on by the owners of the Waterfront Hotel on September 8th.  It was a virtual event.

There were something in the order of 125 people, many of them members of Council and staff as well as other developers and members of the public.

The purpose of a pre-application presentation is to give the public a look at what the developer has in mind and an opportunity for the public to comment.

The two towers will be mere yards away from the south side of Lakeshore Road steps west of Brant if the pre-application presentation reflects what actually gets built.

The comments made by the public were to be captured by the developer and made available to the city planners. The developer is also required to tell how they reacted to the public comments.

With those taking part it is logical to assume that there isn’t going to be flood of comments.

Besides being ‘mind blowing’ at several levels whatever gets done with the Waterfront Hotel site is going to change for decades how the downtown works.

The design put forward was impressive – the two towers will change the skyline and change the relationship the public has with the lake and Spencer Smith Park. Few will see it as a positive change – but that is something the public will have to determine going forward.

Our concern is the difficulty media has had in getting information. Set out below is a graphic that was used to explain what will go where. It had a lot of information – the best we could capture from the presentation was on the small side making it difficult to fully understand how the first four levels of the site will work.

Due to the significant slope from Brant Street to what will be the southern level of the development foot print, understanding how those four levels, which will be a podium, on which the two towers will rise are going to be accessed is a serious problem.

The rendering is a Preferred concept the city put out several years ago – it used John Street as the entry point to the development. The rendering also describes the east lawn as event space. Is that space part of the Hotel property or is it land reclaimed with land fill and under the control of Conservation Halton?

We wrote to the planners working for the developer asking if they would send us a high resolution graphic that we could publish and explain to our readers.

We did not get a response – which seems to now be a pattern.

Recall that earlier we had been told that the pre-application was being recorded and would be available.

In a separate story – there is a link to that below – we explain how we had to badger both the developer and the city planning.

We took the poor quality graphic and had one of our people enlarge it – the quality isn’t all that good – it was the best we could do with what we had.

The people working for the developer clearly do not want the public to be aware of what their early stage thinking is.

There are two issues at work here. We have always lived by the maxim: an informed public can make an informed decision.

With that in mind we will explain what we know about the site.

The planners working for the developer are required to accept your comments and to make them available to the city planners.

The man who wants to hear from you is Evan Sugden  – his contact information is

Evan Sugden

esugden@bousfields.ca

Bousfields Inc

1 Main Street East, Suite 200,

Hamilton ON, L8N 1E7

(905) 549-3005 ext. 259

In order to comment you need to know something about the development – with less than 125 people taking part in the virtual pre-application presentation, there isn’t going to be much depth or breadth to what they developer hears.

Spencer Smith Park and the waterfront part of the city is YOUR property – you have the right to have input – Mayor Meed Ward made sure that you had that right when she pushed for the use of pre-application presentation sessions and she made sure that the Mayor and the ward council member had the right to be part of the presentation.  Odd that the Mayor didn’t say very much when she had the chance.  She did say that the city had not received an application.

Now on to the graphic…

The pink color are the residential units; blue is the hotel which is limited to the podium, the amenity spaces are in green. That upper level serves as a kind of bridge that connects at the podium level. The office functions are shown in purple. There are currently two levels of office functions. Commercial uses are shown in orange. There is a substantial grade stepping from Lakeshore down to the Waterfront Trail. In terms of unit break down, we have 23 units or Studios, 212 units as one bedrooms, 165 plus one bedrooms plus den and 139 as two bedrooms and some units of three bedroom for a total of 557 units between the two towers.

Related news stories:

The pre-application meeting September 8th

An alternate idea that has gained some traction.

Getting the video of the pre-application meeting was easier said than done – both city and the developers planner had to be badgered.

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The Week That Was in the federal election - and just what is the TPP going to mean to us - if anything?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

October 5, 2015

BURLINGTON, ON

Ray Rivers has been writing a column on political issues in the province and across the country.  The Gazette asked Rivers to drop his regular column and write instead on what took place during the week.  This is his fourth column on the federal election and what has transpired to date.

The polls are starting to widen as Canadians begin the process of finally making up their minds. The Liberals are trending up and the NDP down, as the two parties have virtually swapped positions from the start of the campaign. Atlantic Canada is consistently showing red and the prairies blue, but Quebec, Ontario and B.C. are still very much in play.

What were the issues that got the electorate to this point?

The Munk debate on international issues was by far the best debate of the campaign followed by Friday’s French language debate in Quebec, thanks in part to the skilled moderation of these events. It is unfortunate that so-called ‘wedge’ issues have come to override the debate of serious issues at this late date in the campaign.

niqab - fear

The niquab – it is being made into an object of fear rather than a part of religious dress for some people. It has also become a fashion statement for some woman.

One of those wedgies is Mr. Harper’s promise to ban the ‘Niqab’, a simple woman’s head garment, despite the Supreme Court’s ruling that a ban is unconstitutional. It is superfluous the Court says. Everyone is already required to show their face for identity and photographs prior to the actual swearing-in. Further, security is ensured through background checks and signatures, making the Niqab debate such a non-issue.

The PM is ‘full of baloney’ on this issue, according to those who meter these things. But more important is his shameless misleading of the Canadian public. Another wedge issue, also in play, is the annulment of a person’s citizenship.

The loss of citizenship is the last thing the group of 18 Toronto terrorists will regret as they rot in prison for the rest of their lives. But isn’t this a slippery slope – removing the rights of citizenship for some bad actors begs the question – why stop there?

citizenship

Citizenship ceremonies take place across the country – they are proud moments for those participating.

Citizenship is a serious matter. Don’t we need to have a serious discussion about making it two-tiered, and conditional on the whim of a desperate PM, in the midst of an election campaign? One of those 18 being ‘de-citizened’ was born in Canada, with parents who long ago renounced their original citizenships to become Canadians. Where would Mr. Harper deport him to if he weren’t already headed to a Canadian prison for the rest of his life?

But the really big story this week is the Trans Pacific Partnership (TPP) which the PM is determined to sign, without debate, even as we sunset this election campaign. Encompassing 40% of global gross domestic product, this agreement is the mother of all trade deals. Yet over the last couple of decades so many tariff barriers have been whittled down such that other factors, for example exchange rates, can be more of a stimulus or impediment to trade.

We know that Canada’s auto parts and supply-managed agricultural industries are at risk from this deal. New Zealand, one of the instigators of the TPP, wants to sell its surplus industrial milk powder into our markets. And if they get a toehold into our supply managed systems, the US is chomping at the bit to dump its subsidized fluid milk onto our grocery counters, putting at least some of our dairy farmers out of business. Oh, and many US dairy producers use a nasty growth hormone which is banned in this country.

But, despite our health laws, we will have to allow American milk companies to sell their milk here because the TPP is really about investor power, about ensuring market access for investors and transnational corporations.

Twenty years ago the world rejected corporate globalization through something called MAI (Multilateral Agreement on Investment), a contract by which nations would surrender much of their domestic sovereignty to corporations. Now it sure looks like the MAI is back in sheep’s clothing.

tppNAFTA, the template for so many of these ‘free-trade’ deals, already allows international companies to sue governments if they feel their right to sell into a market is impeded. And the TPP will supplant NAFTA, adding even more parties to the deal and bringing sovereign national rules and regulations over the economy, environment and social policy to their lowest common denominator. This is the perfect business model for non-interventionist governments – those which believe that government should stay out of trying to regulate its way to a better future, as the current one does, leaving that role to the business community,.

Of course the devil will be in the TPP details, and that makes this deal a pig-in-a-poke. ‘Trust me’ to look after the interest of Canadians,’ is what the PM is saying. And if you listen to the folks in Quebec or Newfoundland, who have been burned by this government on previous trade concessions in the dairy and fisheries industries, that trust is a breach of faith.

Canada’s embrace of free trade over the last decade has coincided with the loss of 400,000 manufacturing jobs and led, in part, to Canada scoring a record trade deficit this year.

beer - canadian

Is there a really Canadian beer company left? Moosehead – that is a Canadian

Major Canadian entities like Inco, Alcan, Stelco, and our beer companies have been swallowed up by foreign conglomerates, and in some cases, as with Stelco, shut down to reduce competition for their international parents.

The theory of comparative advantage, that pillar of free trade economic logic, has allowed this government to regress Canada’s once balanced economy. We have almost become the hewers and drawers of natural resources, which we were at confederation. Without the resilience of a balanced economy we find ourselves at the mercy of the international commodity markets and their inherent booms and busts.

But perhaps the real reason the US has fallen in love with the TPP is China. Having surpassed the USA, China is now the largest economy on the planet, something which unnerves political nationalists stateside. So the TPP, which includes 11 nations, but not China, will help to contain the ‘waking dragon’ by drawing an economic curtain around it in the Pacific Ocean.

Given the cloud of secrecy surrounding this TPP deal, it is unclear how much of a role Canada played in its design and in negotiating its terms so as to protect our economy. Since it will replace NAFTA as it steamrolls its way forward, we may have no choice but to get on board. Still, why the rush and all the secrecy? Shouldn’t the public be given a chance to see and comment before we sign onto to something as awesome as this huge trade pact?

Tom Mulcair says he’d tear up the TPP if it endangers our supply management systems. Justin Trudeau, whose father established our supply management systems, promises to defend the farmers if elected.

Mr. Harper, who prides himself on having shut down the Wheat Board has no such affection for supply management, though it would be political suicide for him to say so, especially during an election campaign. So what about it, can we trust him?

Rivers-direct-into-camera1-173x300Ray Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking. Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran as a Liberal against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province. Rivers is no longer active with any political party.

Background links:

Niqab Baloney   Citizenship Process   

Toronto 18

Nenshi and the Niqab

French Language Debate    TPP Winner and Losers    TPP Dairy

TPP Negotiations    TPP Explainer    TPP Secrecy   MAI

The US Position    TPP Investment     More TPP Investment    Supply Management    Fisheries

More Fisheries      Export Deficit      Overnight Polls

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How the decision to sell off pieces of city owned waterfront property got made.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

January 5, 2014

BURLINGTON, ON
A four part feature on the city’s decision to sell small parcels of land that it owns that fronts on to Lake Ontario between Market and St. Paul Street. Part 1: The decision – how it got made.

It all began with a report that was the response to a Staff Direction put forward by ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward back in 2012.

Direct the Manager of Realty Services to report back to the Budget and Corporate Services Committee regarding the portion of Water Street located between St. Paul Street and Market Street providing the background and history and options available to the city. (Councillor Meed Ward) (SD-30-12)

Details

Members of the original city sanctioned Waterfront Access Protection Advisory Committee did the early work on just what the city had in the way of windows to the Lake and just how accessible they were. Council liaison to the Committee Marianne Meed Ward is on the right.

The Waterfront Access Protection Advisory Committee (WAPA) had done some extensive work on the state of the twelve Windows to the Lake. WAPA members covered the city from one end to other and looked at every “window” location and commented. That mess at Market and St. Paul Street was included in their report.

Councillor Meed Ward did not expect her Staff Direction to result in the sale of the land.

Staff did a thorough job and came back with what appeared at the time to be a reasonable compromise that protected the property the city owned and gave residents whose homes abutted the waterfront property long term protection and the privacy they desired.

The since sunset Waterfront Access and Protection Advisory Committee produced a report with good graphics that set out what existed in the way of city owned land that could be opened up more effectively to the public.

The since sunset Waterfront Access and Protection Advisory Committee produced a report with good graphics that set out what existed in the way of city owned land that could be opened up more effectively to the public.

The staff report came back with three options:

1. Create a City Parkette – connecting the St. Paul Street and Market Street road allowances
2. Develop Windows-to-the-Lake at St. Paul Street and Market Street and retain ownership with an exclusive lease to the abutting land owners until required for public use
3. Develop Windows-to-the-Lake and dispose of Water Street parcel.
and recommended option 2, leasing the land.

Council voted 6-1 for option 3 – to dispose of the land.

In a arriving at the decision to sell the land the city had a confidential report from the city solicitor. The public never got to see that document nor did the public get to hear any of the debate. All the discussion was done in a closes session of Council. The Burlington Waterfront Committee was so upset at that process they lodged an official complaint. We will report on how that went.

Market-Lakefront-Foot-of-St.-Paul-730x1024

The view to the east from the edge of the retaining wall. This property has riparian rights that could have extended the pathway to the east a little further.

That decision opened up an opportunity for those people whose property abutted the properties, that were owned by both the city and the Ontario Ministry of Natural Resources, to make an offer to purchase land.
There is a lot of murky legal history surrounding the way the retaining wall was built. When Judges make decisions they become public information. One of the problems with the judicial system is that it wasn’t designed for the average man. Without case numbers and the ability to follow a judicial trail it is very difficult to follow the threads of a case. Just because a decision is made by a Judge does not mean it was a great decision; that is why we have appeal courts.

The spirit of community engagement does not yet get much space in the office of the city solicitor and this Council seems to like it that way.The City solicitor lets the public down with her tendency to keep information to herself; lawyers tend to behave that way. The practice is – say nothing unless you have to. Our legal system is an adversarial one. The public tends to get lost or forgotten in that kind of a process. The spirit of community engagement does not yet get much space in the office of the city solicitor and this Council seems to like it that way.
There is nothing preventing this city council from taking a position that every legal document is made public and ensuring that it is posted on the city web site.

The Staff Report with the recommendation that the property be leased was supported by Provincial Policy, Regional Policy, City Official Plan and Parks and Recreation policy.

The Regional Official Plan designates all of Burlington’s shoreline as “Regional Natural Heritage System”. Regional Official Plan Amendment (ROPA 38) Policy 125 (10) states; “To protect and enhance the Halton waterfront as a major resource that is part of the Provincially significant Lake Ontario and Burlington Bay shoreline.”

Policy 118(6) states: “Encourage the development of trails within the Regional Natural Heritage system”

Policy 118(14) states: “Encourage the Local Municipalities to: a) Acquire public open space on tableland adjacent to watercourses and along the waterfront within the Urban Area; b) Identify and designate along or near the waterfront of Lake Ontario and Burlington Bay, a continuous waterfront trail, making use of public road allowances in locations where public waterfront properties are not available”

Burlington Official Plan calls for acquisition of land to create new or add to existing Windows-to-the-Lake/Bay shall be encouraged by City Council, as a means to increase public access to the waterfront.

Corporate Policy – Parks & Recreation – Waterfront Trail (September 27, 1993) is provided as Appendix B – Waterfront Trail specific excerpts pertaining to this report are provided below:

“A continuous Waterfront Trail will be implemented through development and/or redevelopment along Lake Ontario and Burlington Bay where there is sufficient land between that water and a public or private road.The acquisition of land adjacent to existing Windows-to-the-Lake and Windows-to-the-Bay, as well as opportunities to create new Windows-to-the-Lake or Windows-to-the-Bay as they become available, will be considered by City Council, where practical and feasible, to increase public access to the waterfront.
It goes on to say: “A continuous Waterfront Trail will be implemented through development and/or redevelopment along Lake Ontario and Burlington Bay where there is sufficient land between that water and a public or private road. This trail may be composed of two components: a shoreline trail immediately abutting the Lake or Bay, and a near shoreline trail located in the general vicinity of the Lake or Bay.
And adds “The Waterfront Trails will be connected to existing waterfront public open spaces and, where appropriate, other points of interest in the general vicinity of the waterfront.

More: “The City will develop specific guidelines and a marketing program for the Waterfront Trail that will include, but may not be limited to, landscaping, fencing, lighting, signage, parking, construction materials and trail furniture, in consultation with the public, Region of Halton, the Halton Conservation Authority, and other public agencies.

And more yet: “Waterfront trail policies were introduced in the 1997 Official Plan. Since that time limited development along the waterfront has occurred. Waterfront Trail policy development objectives have resulted in the city expanding the waterfront trail and public ownership including:
Easterbrook townhouse development near the Royal Botanical Gardens (RBG), is one where the city required public waterfront access through the Official Plan Amendment (OPA) and rezoning application resulting in Spring Garden Trail.

The 22 storey structire that is due to be built on the waters edge will forever change the look of the city.  For the better?

This is where the the trail will end – it begins at the canal further west.  This may well be as far as it goes for the next century.

The Bridgewater project, that 22 story condo to be built on the edge of the lake, saw the city swap land so that a trail could be built between the water and the development – it is in place now. This is the eastern part of a stretch that goes west to the canal at the Hamilton border.

The Staff report that recommended leasing the land also set out the categories of public space that could be created when considering options including, Parkettes and Windows- to-the-Lake.

“Parkettes are described in the Parks and Recreation and Cultural Assets Master Plan as: Small landscaped venues intended to contribute to an area’s urban design, provide passive/rest areas and lower level park amenities; can be accessed by walking and cycling. They would have features that may include landscaped areas, rest areas, public art, monuments and related features.

You wouldn't know it - but this is public property and anyone can walk out to the end and look over the lake.  City will now put signage indicating that the land is public.  Great views.

You wouldn’t know it – but this is public property and anyone can walk out to the end and look over the lake. City will now put signage indicating that the land is public. Great views.

“Parkettes typically have Seating area(s), walkway connections to the community, bike racks and refuse containers. Some include creative playground structures, tree and shrub plantings; signage and fencing for demarcation of public and private property.

“Windows-to-the-Lake are described as small public areas located on city road allowances next to Lake Ontario or Burlington Bay; established to increase public access to the waterfront. They tend to have bollards or railings to keep vehicles on the road allowance and signage to identify as Windows-to-the-Lake.
The Staff recommendation was to preserve the land for future public use which meant: A) Purchase of the MNR portions of the waterfront between St. Paul’s Street and Market Street road allowances; retaining the ownership of the water lots; Creation of Windows-to-the-Lake on the existing St Paul Street and Market Street road allowances, Entering into lease agreements with the adjacent home owners for exclusive use of the public land between St. Paul Street and Market Street until which time the city decided to develop a waterfront Parkette.

Pros: Supported by the Waterfront Trail Policy, land remains in public ownership, retention of larger land base to create a future waterfront Parkette, retention of option to connect Market Street to St. Paul’s Street. Would provide formalized public access creating an opportunity for residents and waterfront trail users to enjoy the waterfront. Risks associated with shoreline protection is maintained by the adjacent land owners through agreement.

Costs and Liability issues with shoreline protection constructed by the adjacent residents in 1989 as per confidential Legal report L-20-13 can be accommodated in the lease agreement
Limits the establishment of further encroachments in structures or landscape development

Cons: Restricted public access to publicly owned properties along the waterfront is inconsistent with the Waterfront Trail Policy, Uncertainty for adjacent landowners on timing to develop future Parkette, Residential properties to the east and west of the road allowances limit the opportunity to continue the waterfront access beyond this site. Limited benefit as a continuous connection for the Waterfront Trail, existing properties contain encroachments that would require removal or integration into a future park plan and extension of the waterfront access beyond the site would require further land purchases or through development processes

Option Three to dispose of Water Street Parcel and develop Windows-to-the-Lake instead involved: Selling the city and MNR water lots between St Paul Street and Market Street to the adjacent land owners, creation of Windows-to-the-Lake on the existing St. Paul Street and Market Street road allowances
Pros: Access to waterfront would be formalized through two formally developed

Windows-to-the-Lake, proceeds from sale of property could finance a portion of the Windows to-the- Lake implementation, clear demarcation of land ownership with the formalization of the Windows-to- the-Lake, risks associated with the shoreline protection becomes the responsibility of the purchaser, resolves any potential legal issues as per confidential Legal report L-20-13 (which the public never got to see. Issues of encroachments would be resolved, development of Windows-to-the-Lake is a clear message to residents of the opportunity to enjoy the waterfront

Cons: Could be seen as inconsistent with Official Plan and Waterfront Trail Policy on public access and development objectives, no opportunity to establish a Parkette and waterfront trail with the sale of these public lands

Retaining the land for future consideration allows the city to plan for the purchase of land, capital costs for Parkette and Windows-to-the-Lake development and costs associated with repaying the adjacent land owners with the depreciated value of the shoreline protection works implemented in approximately 1989.
The following provides the capital and current budget impact for each of the options provided for consideration based on 2014 development costs.

This road allowance will be tidied up and turned into a window on the Lake.  A bench will be put in along with a sign telling the public they can use the space.

This road allowance will be tidied up and turned into a window on the Lake. A bench will be put in along with a sign telling the public they can use the space.  Councillor Dennison did his best to ensure that signage and benches would be minimal.

Option One– Create a Parkette on Water Street Parcel
Capital expense of $182,000 plus $7500 per year to maintain the land.
Land costs and shoreline protection were set out in the confidential document.

Option two: Preserve for Future use
Capital cost of $80,000, which includes costs to construct and maintain Windows-to-the-Lake; $3500 per year to maintain the Windows on the Lake. Land costs were hidden in that confidential report.

Option three – Dispose of the land:
Capital cost $80,000 and $3500 per year to maintain the Windows on the lake.

Revenues from the sale of the land are identified in L-20-13; that’s the confidential report council got to read and debate – so they apparently know what the selling price is.

The Gazette has information that it cannot yet corroborate that the deal has already be closed.
Estimated cost for Parkette and Windows-to-the-Lake development, which is the leasing option, is $182,000. This does not include the land costs or costs to repay adjacent landowners for the constructed shoreline protection identified in confidential Legal report L-20-13.

Given that staff did not previously identify the development of this property for parkland, the Finance Department propose the use of Parkland Dedication Reserve Fund (PDRF) toward the development of the Parkette and Windows-to-the-Lake. The PDRF has an uncommitted balance as of June 30, 2013 of $9.8 million. Additionally, this park is not identified in the city’s current development charges study.

Market-Lakeshore-foot-of-St-Paul-looking-west3-1024x6821

Taking ownership of this property will enhance the value of the three homes that abut it. The public will learn what was paid for the land – later.

The Staff report also said: “Upon receiving direction from council on an approved option, staff will develop and undertake a community engagement process which outlines the purpose, outcomes and participation goals of any engagement opportunity. Outcomes of the public engagement process will be reported back to council with concept plans for the Windows-to-the-Lake and Parkette development.

There has been absolutely no public consultation other than petitions from the opposing sides – each have radically opposing conclusions.

There is one more surprise – the public will not know how much the buyers pay for the property until the deal is closed.

Don’t you just love the way your council manages your affairs?
Links:
Part 2 The Scobie delegation – it made no difference.
Part 3 The Swartz situation – to follow later in the week.
Part 4 Meed ward position – to follow later in the week.

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