Beachway back in the news - what's up?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

February 28, 2015



For some reason the Burlington Beachway seems to be making the news

Clothing was found in a pile in Beachway PArk - police seached land and water - no body recovered and no missing report filed.

The community used to straddle the railway line that ran beside the lake – it once had more than 200 homes.  Today there are just 30 left and they aren’t at all interested in selling or moving.


Councillor Meed Ward was interviewed on Cogeco Community television and mention was made of the very unsatisfied residents who felt they were not going to ever see the true equity in their homes.

That led Cogeco reporter Krista Sharpe to getting out into the community with her camera and asking questions.

Sharpe met Helen Skinner who has very strong opinions on what the Region and the City are doing to the Beachway community and has never been at a loss for words.

Form your own opinion – listen to Cogeco.

Beachway 1011 sold for $600k

The Region budgeted as much as $400,000 to buy |Beachway homes – this one was sold for $600,000 with the owner given the right to remain in the building for two years.

What the public hasn’t been told all that much about is the work going on within the Burlington Parks and Recreation department – they are the people doing at least the early part of the design work of the proposed park.

The Beachway issue is: what kind of a community does the public want?   The public is vaguely aware that the Region is prepared to buy the homes and if what Craven has to say is true they are actively “courting”‘ those home owners – you could say they are picking them off one by one.  What the  general public really isn’t clued into is what will eventually happen to the Beachway if the Regional policy gets carried out.

Councillor Craven says the home owners are not being pushed out and that they have been kept fully informed – that’s not the view one gets from council candidate Katherine Henshell who says that because of the zoning and the prospect of homes being tied up in red tape – residents can’t find willing buyers – and that depresses the value of their homes.

Henshell argues that the only buyer is the Region

That might be the case but the Region estimated the houses could be bought for about $300,000 each – the most recent sale was for $600,000.

The Beachway situation has always been complex – do the views of Craven, Skinner and Henshell impact what you think?

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12 comments to Beachway back in the news – what’s up?

  • Katherine Henshell

    Mr. Rusin appears to be unaware of how title is searched.

    A real estate lawyer conducts a title search on a subject property by searching registered and non-registered instruments. A registered Notice or Caution on land would alert a real estate lawyer that there is a policy affecting that piece of land. Neither the City nor the Region registered any type of instrument that would have this effect.

    Off title searches include property tax, zoning compliance, work orders, environmental, hydro arrears, etc. and also WOULD NOT have revealed a Beach Master Plan. Any real estate lawyer would not find the Beach Master Plan in their routine title search. It would be nearly impossible. You can check with any real estate lawyer and they will tell you the same thing.

    The only way that a prospective purchaser could become aware of the Beach Master Plan was if the City or the Region registered an instrument on title. This was never done. No notice was provided to any prospective purchaser.

    • Peter Rusin

      Anybody who makes a sober decision to buy unique low lying property in close proximity to a lake, river, stream or water treatment plant and two large bridges will include asking some questions beyond a basic title search as part of a responsible and smart due diligence exercise.

      In particular, a real estate lawyer who decides to purchase this type of property should know where to go and ask those questions. A good real estate lawyer will also understand the risks involved in simply relying on title search information that not always reflects the full story.

      The government should also at the very least have put a notice on title on every property affected by the beachway park plan, even as a simple courtesy. That is part of the sloppy governance that is ongoing in this matter.

  • Jason Boelhouwer

    Last I heard my taxes just went up because of the City budget. Which reminds me, is our infrastructure caught up yet ? No, it’s millions of dollars behind. Has City Council been building up piles of cash – no but we do have a pier, Preforming Arts Centre, more Public Art is on the way and we are in the process of getting our Hospital out of the dark ages.

    So where does Mr. Craven and Mr. Rusin see all this money coming from to buy out 30 homes at lets say $400,000 each on avarage…. that’s $12,000,000 yes $12 million plus demolition costs just to extend a park that the public already has access to the Beach and the Waterfront trail. Never mind the soft costs such as cleaning, policing, bathroom and playground facilities. Then again maybe someone would like to open a hot dog stand across the road from the Regional Sewage treatment plant.

    Dear City Hall, Please don’t use my taxes to go to this project.

    • Peter Rusin

      The cost issues are part of the problem. So, that is why the city has to make a decision, if buying, commit to buying. If not, the stop the plan and leave the people alone. A decision must be made, because this is an ongoing slow and excessive financial bleed, not to mention the adverse impacts the uncertainty is causing the property owners.

      I can tell you where about $7M+ could have come from; the city purchase of 1 acre of land at 1100 Walkers Line………….that is how money is spent in this city.

  • Helen Skinner

    I am a Beachway home owner and let me assure you all that it is a political farse. The City around the corner has voted against legal staff advice to sell the waterfront properties back to private breaking the waterfront trail continuity and then they want to buy us. Seriously.

    Peter Rusin…different tone when you are not standing at our door canvessing votes…interesting! Also, where have you been. Really…you seem to have the answers. Well let me tell you my friend…Councillor Blair Lancaster “simpy” tossed aside the voices of over 3000 halton tax payers’ petition signatures/comments to keep the homes. People who use the current park daily and enjoy the character and sense of safety we give them.

    • Peter Rusin

      All I am saying is the government needs to make up its mind in a collective and decisive fashion; if the decision is to buy all the properties, then do it now; if the political will is not to acquire the properties, then leave all the affected homeowners alone, and finalize an integrated park plan. The leadership in this city is pathetic when it comes to taking a firm stand on a high profile issue like this.

      All this lazy management is putting unfair stress on people and costing everyone more money than needs be, both, the homeowners and the rest of the taxpayers. And Meed Ward in fact does mislead people on waterfront issues which what I categorize as being incoherent political influence; she’s no help either on this file or the water street sale file. None of this is accountable governance, and everyone should be demanding clarity and decisive political management. There is simply no accountability, just the same old incompetence.

      There may need to be an intervention of some sort to set a final plan in place to put this matter to an end, one way or another; 40 years of insanity is enough.

  • G. Stevenson

    Mr. Muir, it is quite clear that Rick Craven is the political figure.

    Mr. Ettlewood, take a look on the City’s website. Call up the minutes of Council – September 23, 2013. Figure out just how the vote went (follow the bouncing amendments). Good luck!! Just as Councillor Dennison notes in his remarks included in the same minutes…. I too am ashamed of how Council handled, or a better phrase would be not handled, this matter.

    • JQ Public

      You are right that reading the minutes is a confusing exercise. However, even though Council voted that the beach community was a “valuable asset” to the park, you will note that it also voted 4 – 3 that the Region should continue its acquisition policy for the homes as long as it was for fair market value and on a “willing buyer, willing seller” basis. This was the message taken to the Region, and it was not a favourable one for the beach community homeowners who wanted the acquisition policy stopped.

  • G. Stevenson

    So what you’re saying Mr. Russin is, either expropriate or not. Buy them all now isn’t “Willing Buyer, Willing Seller” it is expropriation, plain and simple. Actually so is willing buyer, willing seller. It’s a taking of one’s rights to hold on to their ownership, to hold on to peace of mind.

    You are certainly correct that no owners should have to suffer from these uncertain terms that the beachway property owners are faced with!! The political bodies making these decisions should be ashamed. But as for the misleading and incoherent political influence…. the vote at city council was 6 to 1 to not acquire the homes. There was one political figure who used his influence at the regional level to get the vote to swing his way. Never has a decision at the regional table not gone the way the municipal council wanted it to go. This tells me just how much Burlington’s elected officials have lost their respectability.

    As for the homeowners who have sold….. perhaps it came down to they were just plain tired of all the B.S. Makes you wonder if they will remain Burlington taxpayers?

    • Tom Muir

      Can you please tell us who this “political figure” is? No need to hide the name. Call out the accountability.

    • Mike Ettlewood

      I thought that the vote was 4 to 3 to acquire the homes and that Council thus went to the Region with a divided caucus allowing the others, particularly Oakville, to determine the outcome.

  • Peter Rusin

    Here we go again with the Ward 2 councillor misleading people on another high profile waterfront issue.

    The facts are the beachway plan has been in place for roughly 40 years or so. It is unfortunate that some people who bought their homes were not made aware of the fact that the neighbourhood was under a cloud of government. As part of the process of buying property, some responsiblity rests with buyers to know exactly what it is they are buying, and equally it is the job of real estate agents and real estate lawyers representing buyers to advise them of all relevant information affecting the property they intend to purchase.

    Henshell being a real estate lawyer has no excuse in pleading ignorance of the beachway property acquisition plan. She should have known.

    The ward 2 councillor together with Henshell are unnecessarily scaring people into believing that people will not be able to sell their homes for what they are worth. It may be true that at this stage the only probable buyer is the Region, but, the method by which the Region acquires the property ignores the impact of the scheme of the beachway plan and its impact on value and in fact, the price paid for these properties likely results in a higher net price than if there was no governement scheme and the properties were subject to open market conditions. That is something the Ward 2 councillor will not tell the public, firstly because she doesnt understand the valuation principles, and secondly more importantly she wants to stand up politically against Craven.

    Overall, the owners of the properties at least have a guranteed buyer for whenever there is a need or desire to sell their property, which is something not afforded to regular owners of property. And, all costs are paid for, as well as other benefits. The owners also have an opportunity to negotiate a ‘scheme-ignored’ valuation and sale price, which could be significantly higher than if sold privately without the scheme in place.

    To complete this story, there needs to be an exit interview with the people who have gone through the process, and find out from them exactly how things worked out; whether they felt they received a fair and reasonable price for their property, and if the Region’s acquisition process is fair.

    The bigger issue is this:

    1. From a taxpayers’ perspective, one who is not under this cloud, wouldn’t it make more sense to buy the properties now than in the future when prices become even higher?

    2. What happens when there is only one house left, which is how this program is currently proceeding; do we still pay for garbage collection, snow removal, utility, police, fire, ambulance, school bus, water, and sewer pipe maintenance for that one house? Does that make any sense?

    Therefore, should there not be an effort made to lobby the city and the region to determine a final course of action: if buying up properties for beachway expansion, buy them all now to save money, OR, if there is no political will to continue with the acquisition program, say so, and allow the properties to return to normal open market conditions, and relieve the property owners of all the ongoing stress in their lives.

    It is not fair or reasonable to have the remaining people who live in these homes to have to continue to suffer from such uncertain conditions because of misleading and incoherent political influence.