An Open Letter to Burlington MPP Jane McKenna

opinionred 100x100By David Barker

June 23rd, 2019



Ms McKenna in your statement directed towards the We Love Burlington group, published in the Burlington Gazette, you state “Our estimates from the Ministry of the Attorney General show that over 100,000 housing units are caught up in legacy cases at the tribunal.

That’s 100,000 desperately needed homes that can’t get built – or three years worth of construction in Ontario waiting for approval….” By making this statement, Ms McKenna, you imply that you would expect all 100,000 units that await review by LPAT would gain its approval.

Maybe you did not mean to imply that. But your statement reflects exactly the public’s perception of just what is wrong with LPAT (and before it OMB). The perception is that the unelected, unrepresentative body seems to invariably side with the developer’s position, completely ignoring the municipality’s official plan and the desires of the local residents.

Please can you provide any justification as to why the Province of Ontario should even have an unelected, unrepresentative body to pass judgement on how a municipality manages it’s development. As far as I am aware no other Canadian Province has such a body. I assume in those other Provinces the developer’s recourse is to a non-political court system. Should that not also be the recourse here in Ontario.
Surely if a municipality has an official plan that has been accepted and approved by it’s region (and by implication the Province) why should that municipality then be second guessed by an unelected, unrepresentative political body. If a developer’s proposal does not comply with the requirements of the municipality’s (Region/ Province approved) official plan, then surely the developer should not expect municipal plan approval until it does conform.

My understanding is the official plan in effect in Burlington dates back to 2008. That means the official plan has been in effect for ten years NOT twenty five years as you contend. That 2008 official plan, although soon to be superceded by an updated official plan, does in fact remain compliant with regional and Provincial requirements. As such it should be respected by all, including developers, the Province and LPAT.

Ms McKenna you are right to champion the need to increase the supply of affordable housing, both rental and owned. I believe you will find allies fir that goal at the Region, at Burlington City Council and in the community. However, the high rise condo developments proposed for downtown Burlington do not in any meaningful way address affordable housing. The price point of the proposed condos are way outside the affordability of first time home buyers. Further the monthly rental cost of those units being bought by investors for the rental market is also likely to be well beyond the budgets of the twenty something’s who look for affordable rental accommodation. So for you, Ms McKenna, to in any way imply that the developers proposals for downtown Burlington high rises address affordable housing is completely disingenuous on your part.

Please, Ms McKenna would you temper your standing up and defending the bullying Ford government, of which you are a part, with more standing up and advocating for the desires and positions of your constituents who elected you to represent them. Those views are clearly and accurately expressed and advocated by the City of Burlington Council.

I dare you to publish on your website this opposing view to your statement. But I doubt you are either brave enough or confident enough to do that.

David Barker is a Burlington resident who lives on Lakeshore Road.

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5 comments to An Open Letter to Burlington MPP Jane McKenna

  • david barker

    Penny, I think we all agree both the firmer Liberal government and the firmer Burlington City Council made grave mistakes. Thus is not about assigning blame for past mistakes or fir putting us where we are today. The argument now is about Bill 108 which the Ford government rushed through the legislature in a month, with little real public consultation. Certainly not the amount of public input that is deserving of a Bill which will profoundly affect the planning and development operations of every municipality in this Province.

    Respectfully I would say to you, yes McKenna is following party lines and in doing so is ignoring the views of her constituents. There comes a time when your MP or MPP must stand up for the constituents. This discussion has absolutely nothing to do with the financial position of the Province or what financial position the former Liberal government did it did not leave the Ford government to deal with. Thus discussion is about allowing municipalities to plan their growth in a way that each municipality sees fit, without interference from an unelected, unrepresentative Provincial government appointed tribunal

  • david barker

    Alfred certainly there is a process to apply to Council to achieve variance from the official plan. That discretion lies with the Council not an unelected, unrepresentative body. The recourse should Council decline an application for variance should be to an unbiased court system not LPAT.

    In my opinion none of the downtown high rise developments, approved or proposed, address affordable housing in any meaningful extent. All those developments, again in my opinion, are solely and unashamedly focused on the high priced condo market where the developer will realize maximum return on investment. From the developers’ perspectives that’s exactly where their investors want the focus to be. But it seems you and I believe affordable housing should and must be provided in real quantity as a part of any development. None of the proposals dies that !

    At the public meeting held at Central High School the developers for the proposed high rise on the lands between Old Lakeshore Rd and Lakeshore Rd the developer touted the positive effects their building would have on the downtown. It would bring new retail and so bring more people into the downtown envigorating the area with more visitors to the area. However when I asked the developer about the lack of public parking to be provided in the building to accomodate those same outside visitors it says will be drawn to the area (their proposal called for 270 spaces, including 30 for building visitors, to service 250 condos), the developer’s response was that it is providing the minimum amount of public parking required by the City and that dealing with parking for outside of building visitors is the responsibility of the municipality. That approach demonstrates the attitude that runs through the developer community. An attitude that it will live by the requirements of the official plan when it suites, but when it doesn’t it will ignore the official plan.

    I’m sorry, I do not see the relevance of your comment as to the former Liberal government. No one is saying the Liberal government got this file right. What is being said is the Ford government’s new approach is wrong and needs to be stopped before implementation. Bill 108 went through the parliamentary process in a month! That is whirlwind speed for government. There was little real public consultation, no matter what the government says. The Ford government before making another mis-step should put implementation of 108 on pause and really listen to municipalities and the general public, hopefully taking the views of their constituents on board.

    Do not mistake the opposition to the barrage of super high high rises in downtown Burlington as nimbyism. It’s not that at all. It’s about thoughtful well planned development that is respectful of a municipality’s official plan and that community’s wishes. Additionally, it’s about the degree to which any proposal meets that municipality’s social conscience needs.

  • Penny Hersh

    I have to agree with Alfred. Everyone seems to forget that the Liberals were in power for 15 years and yes Burlington’s Official Plan is outdated and decisions made by previous Burlington Municipal Councils have put us in the situation we are faced with today.

    Did you know that Metrolinx gave Municipalities, who were in the process of updating their Official Plans, the option in 2017 to change Mobility Anchor Hubs? Burlington opted to do nothing. I can only think that the Council of the Day did not recognize what having a “downtown mobility anchor hub” meant. You cannot blame the developers for taking advantage of higher density near these hubs, when our own Council did nothing to protect this area.

    I have said for years that LPAT/OMB should not exist, however, we have to remember that Burlington Councils made some grave errors, that have put us in the position we are in today.

    Jane McKenna is following party lines. The Liberals, who were voted out, by a huge majority, left the Province in deep financial difficulty. I guess it is easy for governments to spend money they don’t have.

    How interesting it is that citizens have forgotten what the previous Liberal government is responsible for.

  • Alfred

    David.The official plan is not carved in stone To amend the official all you have to do is apply to the City. Pay the prescribed fee, then submit your proposal. With whatever changes you want Zoning changes perhaps. Staff will review the application after a public meeting and if the application is judged to be better than what the official plan called for. The official plan would then be amended either by a council decision or OMB. Zoning and official plans can both be changed through a legal process. An official plan dated at 2008 is a little outdated when one considered they started to work on it in the 90,s. This intensification issue has been around well before Ford became Premier. Most of this nonsense was the brainchild of the Liberals. Call the game fair and the people will respect you. While I agree that the downtown area is getting congested. It’s time the nimby”s stop complaining and show us a better plan on affordable housing and where development and what kind of development takes place. Details please let’s get serious.

  • steven craig Gardner

    Right on David! Very well said. It does feel we are daily being bullied by those we elected to serve us. Something wrong with that pictyre. Unfortunately we can’t change it for # MORE YEARS.