Alinea works at getting what it has wanted for some time - Employment Lands concerted to Multi Use- think residential

By Pepper Parr

December 7th, 2023



The land-use planning scandal that has rocked Ontario’s Progressive Conservative government has revealed how the province utilized all manner of regulatory tools to force more housing on cities and towns – removing land from the protected area known as the Greenbelt, expanding urban boundaries and issuing special decrees known as minister’s zoning orders.

But a Globe and Mail analysis has uncovered a fourth, less discussed mechanism: re-writng municipal Official Plans.

The Ford government imposed two dozen policy changes on the city of Hamilton and the regions of Halton, Peel and York by rewriting their official plans – documents that guide what gets built and where. It altered local planning decisions by, among other things, making lands zoned for commercial use available for housing and foisting greater height limits on residential buildings, documents show.

Steve Clark, then the province’s housing minister, oversaw last year’s revisions of the official plans, including the policy changes.

As Minister of Municipal Affairs he signed off on ROPA 49, a document that has been very kind to Burlington FIX THIS He has since resigned, and his successor, Paul Calandra, has pledged to reverse the revisions. He asked mayors in October to tell him by Thursday what changes they want to keep.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

Mayor Meed Ward will meet that deadline with the letter she is sending the Minister was recommended at a Standing Committee earlier this week.

Alexandru Cioban, a spokesman for Mr. Calandra, said municipalities are in the best position to understand the “unique needs and concerns of their communities.”

The documents the Globe and Mail dug out shed light on how directives from political staff converted just under 200 hectares of employment lands – areas set aside for commercial or industrial purposes – to residential use and rezoned small parcels to increase density and height limits.

Mr. Amato also met in October, 2022, with Lobbyist Nico FidaniDiker, a former aide to Premier DougFord, regarding another policy change to an official plan.

Sandwiched in between the GO line on the left and Hwy 403 on the right the property is probably the most valuable pice of land in th city. Zoned as Employment lands that was changed in Regional Official Plan Amendment (ROPA) 49.

Mr. Amato discussed “three or four properties in the Halton area” on behalf of Mr. Fidani-Diker’s client Penta Properties, now known as Alinea Group Holdings, the Integrity Commissioner’s report says.

Penta was seeking approvals to build housing on three of its properties in Burlington, including a 71.5-hectare swath of lands that the regional government had designated for employment and commercial purposes. Planning staff in Halton Region opposed the requests, citing concerns that reducing the supply of employment lands could jeopardize the city’s job-creation targets, according to the internal government records.

Mr. Clark’s office gave Penta the green light. Burlington councillors unanimously voted in November to retain the province’s changes.

The new Minister of Municipal Affairs wanted to give the Clark decision a second thought and asked foe their views.

Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward said in an interview that she supports the province’s move to bypass the regional council .“If you look at the kind of communities we foresee for the future, it is about mixed use ,” she said. “It’s about being able to come out the door of your house or your condo and walk to a community centre, to a park, to retail and to have jobs close by.”

This wasn’t a position held two years ago but times change.

Mayor Meed Ward is in the process of letting the Minister of Municipal Affairs and Housing know that she supports the decision.  Her letter is appended below.

Dear Minister Calandra,

Thank you for the opportunity to provide input on Regional Official Plan Amendment 49. When these modifications were first announced, Burlington City Council unanimously endorsed them.

Our position remains the same, and council unanimously endorsed this letter at our committee meeting of Dec. 5. Specifically, Burlington City Council unanimously supports the following:

      • Maintaining the 2051 time horizon. The Burlington Official Plan, 2020, Targeted Realignment Exercise – Initial Work Plan and associated efforts will include technical study, planning analysis and engagement to clarify local growth Population and employment expectations are likely to be significantly higher than reflected in policy in Table 1 of the Halton Region Official Plan, as modified by the Minister.
      • Maintaining the addition of two new Urban Areas, specifically Eagle Heights and Bridgeview. The policies of the Regional Official Plan provide sufficient guidance to undertake appropriate processes to confirm the nature of development in these two
      • Maintaining the removal of the Employment Area overlay for Bronte Creek Meadows and 1200 King Road. Both areas are within the ROPA 38 Urban Boundary and may present key opportunities to explore and potentially leverage servicing priority through discussions with the Region of Halton.

The City of Burlington remains committed to meeting or exceeding our Housing Pledge of 29000 units, which council unanimously endorsed earlier this year. As noted in the City’s Housing Pledge, while there is sufficient land within our pre-ROPA 49 urban boundary to accommodate 29,000 housing units by 2031, the lands affected by the Minister’s changes to the Region’s urban structure provide near and longer term opportunities for the City to deliver on a number of Provincial, Regional and City objectives.

The City of Burlington will continue to work collaboratively with the respective ROPA 49 landowners and the public in advancing the City’s interests on these lands. Priority will be given to achieving the City’s community responsive growth management objectives and long-term community development goals related to achieving vibrant mixed-use neighbourhoods inclusive of the following elements as outlined in our May 25, 2023 letter:

          • economic benefits including future employment targets that increase future property assessment growth.
          • social benefits including affordable and attainable housing, public parks and greenspace and community facilities and amenities.
          • environmental benefits including climate mitigation and adaption, natural heritage preservation and enhanced integrated mobility.

Everyone deserves a safe and affordable place to call home. We look forward to working together with the Province of Ontario, the public, and the development community on innovative solutions and partnerships to increase attainable housing options for residents at every stage of life.


Mayor Marianne Meed Ward City of Burlington

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