opinionred 100x100By Jim Barnett

October 15th, 2018


Jim Barnett can remember a time when the city had a number of rate payer associations that kept city council on its toes.  Now that there is a grass roots organization in place at least three members of  the current council is doing everything they can to trash the group and get rid of them.

The term of the current Burlington city council is almost over and this is a good thing. In my opinion there has been little teamwork likely due to a lack of leadership, taxes raised beyond the rate of inflation, and no clear plan for the future. Grow Bold is not a plan, it is an essay on what should be planned.

The root cause for the difficulty we are in was caused by politicians creating a green belt which resulted in Burlington loosing half of its land from development opportunities. They forgot that this created a scarcity of land on which to grow in Burlington and ignored the classic economics that scarcity leads to increase prices, and in Burlington’s case has priced many people right out of the market and put great hardship on those needing “affordable housing”.

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The developers indeed did see the opening – they took the risk and they won.

Developers saw this scarcity coming and took advantage of it. They were then given an additional gift with the downtown designated as a mobility hub requiring intensification and the race was on.

The old plan, and in fact the one that is still on the books in Burlington, limits heights of building to four to six stories. Yet even with this regulation the developers have been able to get the planning department to present to council projects with over 20 stories on many occasions. Somewhere the citizens of Burlington lost control of their city and we find our elected council spending all their time blaming the Provincial government and the OMB for the loss of character in the place we live. In my opinion the blame is with them. The new plan, currently at the region for review still needs a lot of work to put meaningful measurements into it and I hope the new council will make its first order of business to put a defensible plan supported by the citizens in front of the region.

I have been a regular delegator, both to the committees and to council for the past six years. I have attended three of the recent debates and read extensively the campaigns, both in print and on electronic mediums. I have drawn the following conclusions.

Goldring with bikeMayor Goldring has decided to double down on his record. If you are happy with the Burlington city tax increases, the plans for the downtown in disarray, and wanting more of the same, he is your man.

Portrait standingMead Ward seems to be in sync with the majority of Burlington residents about development and had the right solution to the Pier debacle. However, she seems to end up in a lot of six to one votes. Has she a consensus building problem? Can she provide leadership? Will she be willing to address she staffing problems?

WallaceWallace does not seem to be part of the current problems which is an asset. His campaign has a lot of good ideas and seems to be more aware that it will take collaboration with the region and the province to find solutions to our ills. If you think he can deliver on that need, read his campaign again.

WoodruffWoodruff has some refreshing ideas and rookie naivety. He need seasoning at the councilor level.

While I am at it, If you live in wards five and six, remember your current councilors, Sharman and Lancaster refused to participate in a public debate. Democracy is presenting yourself and your ideas to the electorate. What did they want to hide? Dennison, to his credit, while initially refusing, saw the light and attended most of the debate he was asked to attend.

Our future depends on fixing the parking issues, developing a realistic traffic plan including transit and listening to the citizens. A good start would be to having committee chairs pay attention to what the delegations are saying and realizing when the delegations are being critical of the council and staff they might be right! For starters all the new council should read the file, The Road Diet on New Street versus the people.



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6 comments to AN OPINION ON THE 2018 ELECTION

  • Chris

    “The root cause for the difficulty we are in was caused by politicians creating a green belt” …….Creating a Green Belt is one of the best decisions made by the province and all the “politicians” who contributed to this process. I hope Mr Barnett is not suggesting North Burlington be available for continued urban sprawl. The city can not afford any more low density development.

    • Lucy

      Chris…Is it better just to be packing everyone in every little nook and cranny of our city: ignoring major traffic issues, ignoring the safety of children and seniors, ignoring flooding issues, ignoring the ugliness that comes with creating a concrete jungle, etc. etc.? We need a City Planning Staff and Councillors who will not approve of the over-intensification that the majority of residents strongly oppose. There has to be a sane, reasonable level of growth, not a free-for-all profit centred development that ruins neighbourhoods. Balanced growth must be the goal.

      • Chris Maynard

        I don’t agree with the tone of your comment. I have reviewed many of the development applications and each and every one includes study on safety, traffic, flooding etc. The level of density and reaction to building appearance are personal opinions and have the same merit.

        For example I recall the “doomsday” comments and letters by the angry when Wal-Mart was moving to Brant Street, none of those opinions actually happened.

        My point is I agree with controlled development but I don’t agree with the shrill drama and low information comments from many of those most upset.

        • Lucy

          Development applications can truly sing a sweet tune and make everything planned sound wonderful–a nightmare scenario is presented as a lovely dream. . That was my impression reviewing (in depth) the Lakeside Village Plaza proposal/application and hours and hours scouring the city site for related documents. When a property is designated Residential Medium Density and the application even exceeds the level of Residential High Density designation, there most certainly is reason to be alarmed. Over and over again, sites are rezoned and amendments readily accepted ignoring the public’s outrage. That is a problem. Doing research to gather information before commenting is one of my strengths.

          As far as the Wal-Mart on Brant is concerned, it is an area that is very congested and one I avoid now. Businesses in the area that I used to frequent no longer get my business. For you, that might not be a problem but for many of us traffic congestion makes getting around very unpleasant. Perhaps, that is why online shopping is so popular. Too many cities are so congested people can’t stand to get out and shop the old fashioned way.

  • Stephen White

    Jim raises some important issues for consideration. However, assuming that a change in the Mayor will, de facto, result in a change in Council’s overall direction, is hopeful at best and naive at worst.

    Truly, it is about getting to the number 4. That could mean a new Mayor and 3 supporting Councillors, or 4 new Councillors. That also presupposes the 4 new elected members also have a backbone, principles, and will fight for their constituents’ interests and not those of developers. Truly, if Councillors Dennison, Sharman and Lancaster get re-elected, plus any combination of those who appear to support the status quo, are pro-development, or who aren’t strongly opposed to the current policy direction this City has been following (i.e. Papin, Staz, Galbraith, Worsley in Ward 1, Calderbank in Ward 2, Rusin in Ward 3), then it is pretty much “game, set and match”.

    Voters really need to vote strategically this election. Candidates who haven’t been actively campaigning, don’t have a website, look indecisive during debates, don’t have clearly articulated policy platforms, haven’t distributed literature, and don’t have signs up, haven’t a proverbial snowball’s chance in hell of being elected and aren’t worth wasting a vote on. To coin an old adage “Half a loaf is better than none”. As well, those supporting incumbents thinking that somehow things will magically change and that they will finally “see the light” also need to “get real”. After eight years if they haven’t changed direction it’s too late to light a fire under them.

  • Lucy

    Re: Marianne Meed-Ward: You state she “seems to be in sync with the majority of Burlington residents about development”. Then you state “she seems to end up in a lot of six to one votes”, as if that is a problem. The people of Burlington would not be waging a war on over-development if some of the rest of council listened to residents and voted with Marianne in the past who was listening to the taxpayers and what they wanted for their neighbourhoods. She was the brave one that had to endure a Mayor and fellow Councillors who were deaf when it came to citizens’ concerns. No, she doesn’t have a consensus building problem. Yes, she can provide leadership! If you do your research and do not have any relationship with or ties to any of the candidates (which is my situation), Marianne Meed-Ward is the best choice. In Ward 5, Mary Alice St. James stands out with the right experience and readiness to listen to and work for the residents. (No ties to her either prior to this election…just so happy she joined us to oppose the ‘out-of-control’ proposal for Lakeside Village Plaza.)