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



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

  • Tom Muir


    I have told you many times right here the truth of the politics of what I am talking about in much detail.

    It is true that The City itself is a creature of the Province and subject to their planning laws and policies. My point about the takeover – perhaps a better word I could have used – refers to what has been done over the last 4 years by the province powers. These new planning policies are blatantly true.

    The Province, led by Mr. Ford, has approved Bills with multiple and sequential policy steps that hamstring a number of previous oversight development regulatory policies, and in addition, has similarly crippled Burlington Official Plans and Zoning.

    Looking at the political effect of all this policy, and how it works to effect, it has effectively created a central planning dictatorship framework and put OLT in charge of enforcing it. This is my political opinion, but you are telling me not to say anything about the truth of it and how it works, which is pretty much in line with how dictatorships work – eliminate critics.

    Developers can just go through the motions where citizens get a look at their demands and can squeak very limited comments, and then go away. If City refuses the application, or fails to make a decision in the time allowed in the new regs, the developers just go to the OLT.

    Citizens are then cut out. The OLT dictates using the Provincial Policy folder that guides the central planning dictatorship from this point. What the City and citizens want doesn’t really matter. They don’t make the final decision on what is allowed anymore because the planning dictatorship at OLT ultimately rules. More democracy?

    From what I see, this is an historical challenge to Burlington’s rights of self determination and expression, and I don’t think the Mayor and City has any choice but to fight, or give up forever any control at all in how Burlington develops anywhere and everywhere.

    So giving up is not what residents do because they are really just eliminated at OLT. They can’t speak, only write, to the OLT.

    But hope springs eternal. It just so happens that I saw Mayor Meed Ward this Wed. morning on CHCH, and she was sticking to her guns. She talked about the City housing strategy, complete communities in new development, need for new Parks and recreation assets, and most of all for here right now, getting rid of OLT – it is not working.

    Try telling her not to speak on this.

  • I’m troubled by Jim Thompson’s statements that the rules on secrecy and disclosure are not as strict as we have been told they are. Jim writes like he has done his homework, although he is not fully adequate for my taste on what exactly he is basing his claims on so an interested party could go look for themselves.
    Is Ontario Regulation 444/98 regarding disposal of school property adequate?
    I have long been led to believe that closed sessions are the rule for certain matters. Or maybe it really means that closed sessions can be declared by Council, but are not mandated.
    It seems there is a lot of discretion for secrecy on what these matters are according to Jim. If that’s what this is based on, City discretion not mandate, then say so City.
    I understand such a discretionary option exists or some things, such as personnel, legal disputes, and development matters at appeal, but I can’t say where a line can be drawn right now, here. Is this a City option but not requirement? Or what is it based on? Residents need to know when there are secrets kept and this keeps them out of the process, but the secrecy is at the discretion of City.
    This needs to be explained officially by the City with reference to the claimed legal framework and wording being used to justify what the City has been doing for years.

    • Tom, We replied to your comment earlier today based on your statement “I don’t like it either, but it’s what it is apparently”. We advised that our review of Regulation 444/98 and the Municipal Act relevant section shows Jim is absolutely right, secrecy on real estate deals by a city is not a requirement. As you know transparency is. There are numerous complaints on line against municipalities who are not properly following the rules on whether they can hold real estate discussions in secret and many of them having findings for the complainant. Yes indeed, we need an explanation from the city and Councillor Sharman, was he misled or did he know secrecy on the Bateman financial matters is not a requirement! Our thanks go to Jim Thomson for doing his homework better than any of us did. It is really too bad that it has been roven that we cannot any longer accept what we are told by senior staff and councillors without a follow up request: “please provide the references” but apparently that’s the way it is!

    • Jim Thomson

      I finally got a reply from the City to the question I posed Councillor Sharman.
      Nothing mandates the secrecy, its just the way the city operates.
      In this case they have provisions in the agreement with HDSB the require both parties to keep the agreement secret until it closes.

      Please see the following reply that I just received from Ron Steiginga:

      Hi Jim. The Municipal Act legislation governs municipalities and allows certain matters including real estate transactions to be in camera and kept confidential. This is to protect all parties in the deal itself and also protects the integrity of the negotiations. As long as I have worked at the city  we have always kept real estate matters confidential until the sale closes. As you know, many things can go wrong in a real estate deal that can cause problems and in some cases creates situations where deals cannot close and are cancelled. Should this occur, the details of the deal and specially the price would not be revealed and the seller and buyer would be able to remarket the property without the details of the previous offers being disclosed. 
      In this specific case there are direct provisions in the agreement with the HDSB that prevent either party from releasing price details prior to the closing date. 

      I hope this helps explain things?


  • Alfred


    Recent Provincial takeover of local planning and development??

    You appear to be the only person that doesn’t understand that the Province has always been the authourity and has the final say in planning and development matters.

    Local Municipalities are to follow the Provincial guidelines established by the Premier through the Ministry of Housing it’s been this way forever. Your renegade Mayor supported by the senseless Nimby’s thought they could break-away and make up their own rules. The Provincial safeguard the OLT shut down that idea of that ever happening. The City losing all it’s anti-development appeals. Speaks volumes of the Mayors lack of understanding of the development process and her responsibility to follow Provincial guidelines not make up her own.

    Tom may I suggest you not putting in print, matters that are blatantly not true. Simpletons can’t tell the difference.

    • Dave Turner

      The development process is a sham. The municipality is required to have an OP, have clear zoning and bylaw requirements to be followed by developers, to respond to development applications within a certain timeframe. Developers are required, at least here in Burlington, to hold public engagement meetings to seek feedback to their proposals. But the Province overrides and tramples all that by using the OLT to provide pro-developer biased decisions.

      No other Province has an “OLT”.

      Ontario does not need it. We have a perfectly good court system to impatially .adjudicate disputes.

  • Jeremy Skinner

    Deborah: You are correct in that it is only the Wellington Park portion associated with the track to the east border of the park which is being sought by HDSB in the proposed swap. The lands to the west of the track are to remain as the City owned Wellington Park.

  • Joe Gaetan

    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 I had an accurate and complete picture of what this purchase/swap/trade/sub-rental deal was about, I would be in an informed position to answer the question. As it stands too many bouncing balls are still up in the air. On top of that, did the HDSCB not already accept the City offer to buy/swap? Help!!!

  • Jeremy Skinner

    Deborah. The track associated with Burlington Central resides in Wellington Park. The west portion of the Burlington Central HS building also is an encroachment on Wellington Park hence the desire for a land swap. I suggest that you use Google Maps – Satellite View to see all of what Wellington Park encompasses. Please contact your Public School Trustee to determine how this land might be used if the land swap with the City for the Bateman HS property is consummated.

  • Bob

    I believe his questions are loaded.
    A simple do you favour or not favour the proposal would be a more accurate survey.
    Adding caveats and part 2 to a question makes the survey jilted in favour of his wanted answer

    Question 1 am I in favour of purchasing this very large parcel of land YES, the land swap I am not against as the city will still have the first right to purchase should HDSB ever decide to offload it

    Question 2 I am in favour of any and all uses for the building, up to and including demolition and the city obtaining much needed and valuable parkland. Bearing in mind that Burlington is built out and there is no more development land available.

  • Tom Muir

    Q1. I have already indicated my support for the City acquisition noted. But for clarity, an answer to Deborah’ question is needed. In any case, it is not anything like a deal breaker for me. The public can still use it anyways, and it supports keeping Central open downtown.

    Q2. I like the diversity of uses already planned, or something very much like that. It poses opportunities for cluster synergies – several levels of education including faculty teaching, special education, library resources, business links, and community physical education and health facilities much needed.

    Given the recent history over school closings and provincial takeover of local planning and development, I don’t understand why anyone would oppose this project. I would say only if they have a vested interest in the matter.

    I understand from Jeremy and from Councilor Sharman, published here, as well as my own experience, that there are many rules in place that restrict public knowledge of things such as this. You can’t even reveal revealing all the due diligence undertaken before the decision is made. I don’t like it either, but it’s what it is apparently.

    If it’s ticking boxes to ask people what they think, that’s what it is. Is it better than nothing? I’m only on for a maybe, and one thing at a time. For me, for this, it is acceptable.

    Bring it up when it’s decision time. Make a reasoned argument then.

    • Jim Thomson

      I asked Councillor Sharman what Provincial regulation prevents the city from disclosing costs.
      He passed the question on to Tim Commisso, who has passed it to Ron Steiginga.

      It may just be a policy matter regarding confidentiality of land matters.

      Land matters may be treated as confidential under the Municipal act, but nothing in that act says they must be treated as confidential.

      And I don’t see where the due diligence on parking is confidential. Either the site has the parking required for its new purpose or it doesn’t. It’s not something that should need to be studied. It should have been part of the due diligence before the city made the offer to purchase.

    • Jim Thomson has set the record straight on the Councillor Sharman and Tim Commisso position that you don’t like Tom. 444/98 Regulation, which we have reviewed contains nothing on financial disclosure. The Municipal Act allows in camera meetings on real estate under certain circumstances. It does not require it which is the case for transparency. There are a number of successful complaints against municipalities who contravene the rules in terms of when they can go in camera on real estate. We are waiting for Councillor Sharman’s response to Jim Thomson’s position which we have checked out as accurate which we expected to be the case. Paul Sharman has not been a Councillor who gave us any sense of understanding of the legislation that governs Council. Rather we see him as a councillor who responds to what Senior staff tell him without checking it out for himself.

  • Deborah

    I thought the land swap was for the track area at Central? Not Wellington Park?