Burlington is about to get its day in the sunshine. When the daffodils burst into bloom – our guys will head to Toronto to tell our story.

By Pepper Parr


January 8, 2014

The people who believe they matter in this city are going to travel to Queen’s Park and tell the Burlington story to just about anyone who will listen.  They plan to do this “ in the Spring”.

The Mayor will lead the parade.  Perhaps they will form a “congo line” from Union Station and dance up University Avenue and into the Legislature – they will travel by GO train won’t they?  As for the rest of the people on that GO train city hall is “still finalizing but there will be Council and senior management team representatives.

Is this team of stellar player travelling into the big smoke to ask for money?  The Mayors Chief of Staff advises “There will be an ask for support but this would include a combination of things. Anything specific we asked: “There will be multi prong objectives to the meetings”.  And if you have figured out what that means – tell us, because we don’t see any information in the statement.

Is Burlington the Rodney Dangerfield of Ontario municipalities – continually looking for suspect?

Burlington is sort of like the Rodney Dangerfield of smaller Ontario communities.  Tucked in between rough, tough, gritty Hamilton and snooty Oakville, Burlington continues to boast about its splendid waterfront (which it is prepared to sell a portion of, if the price is right, or you can scare city council with a law suit – but I digress) and the Escarpment that a lot of people want to drive a road through.

How does a city go about changing the way it is perceived?  City hall thinks our story should be taken to Queen’s Park where they can talk to the people who make things happen in the province and see how they feel about the development charges we have raked in.

Or we could tell them about how we managed to put up a pier that was to cost something in the $6 million range but got ramped up to $14 million and we still have a court case to settle.

Not exactly growth is it. Burlington tax revenue from the Commercial sector is falling and there are no clear signs that it will improve in the very near future.  Revenue has to come from somewhere – residents are an obvious source.

Burlington wants to tell its story – but no one is quite sure just what that story is.  If there is a vision – it’s tough to see it – unless you are looking at all the “happy talk” that comes out of city hall.  Try this for size: “Burlington is widely recognized as a great Canadian city. Not only do 95 per cent of Burlington residents rate their quality of life as excellent or good, but MoneySense magazine has named Burlington the best mid-sized city in Canada and the third best city of any size for 2013.”

The sources of tax revenue.  The yellow and the blue columns have to be grown – no one is sure just how he city is going to do that.

But how do we stay great? , the city asks. In the future, the challenge will be to maintain service levels and high quality of life without significant tax increases. We need to do this in the context of more modest growth, which means we must be proactive in planning and developing resources, especially our land base.

All too true but we have at least one land holder who refuses to work with the city to develop in a moderate intelligent manner.  Paletta International wants to convert lands currently zoned as employment lands into residential where the return on the investment is much more attractive.

There is another developer who has come up with a unique, interesting – even intriguing approach to development that doesn’t follow the traditional pattern.  Evergreen has been sitting on a piece of property at the intersection of Dundas and Tremaine Road for more than ten years that stretches all the way to Hwy 407.  This development has gotten stuck in that quagmire that includes differences of opinion between the Regional Official Plan, Burlington Official plan and the plans that Oakville has – the property sits on the border of the two communities – and Ontario Municipal Board hearings.

“We need to transition: says city hall “from an expanding suburban community to one that “grows in place,” finding new and innovative ways to grow revenues – especially the assessment base – in sustainable ways that recognize the challenges posed by growth limitations.”

That “grows in place” phrase is one you are going to read a lot about in the next few years.  It needs a little more drill down to be fully understood.

“Burlington needs to sustain its revenue base, while maintaining the service levels and quality of life residents have come to enjoy and expect.”

City of Burlington is going to take its story to Queen’s Park in the Spring

To capture some of those challenges, the city has created The Burlington Story. It tells the story of where we’ve been, where we are today and where we’re going.  Watch for Mayor Goldring to grab this story and use it to as one of the major planks of his re-election platform.  That assumes of course that the Mayor will be challenged in his decision to get re-elected next October.

Is the “Burlington Story” the revised version of the Mayor’s vision?

Residents of the city will get their first look at just where our Mayor wants to go when he delivers his State of the City address  January 23, 2014.  The event is hosted by the Chamber of Commerce, tickets are available at the Chamber of Commerce.

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1 comment to Burlington is about to get its day in the sunshine. When the daffodils burst into bloom – our guys will head to Toronto to tell our story.

  • Vincenzo Luigano

    The charts in the report prove Paletta as being right. By the way, he doesn’t need money. He is just trying to be pragmatic. The fight should not be against private property owners; this is not about developers making money; its about doing the right thing.

    You cant wish employment land development if there is no desire by the market to do so. This employment land development fantasy has failed over a twenty year time frame, at the cost of the taxbase and progressive development. Time for a new philosophy that is not devised by some bureaucrats who continue to suffocate the free market economy.

    Look at the charts; how much NEW industrial/employment land development has taken place in the last year? last 5 years?

    The reason there has been new commercial development is because of all the residential population increases.

    Why not listen to somebody smart like Paletta? Stop listening to wishful thinking planners at city hall.

    The “The Burlington Story” report is a relatively generic document that could describe almost any other community.

    If Goldring uses this report as his platform, he will show that he is weak and will continue with the chronic stagnation and property tax increases. The report says nothing.

    Going to Queens Park 3 months prior to a provincial election to speak with representatives of a non-elected premier is a waste of energy.

    This city hall cant even get the MTO to accommodate a new interchange design at Walker’s Line to accommodate a major commercial entity in this city (IKEA); and the Mayor’s chief of staff is suggesting there is going to be a multi prong pitch to the province? Who is running this city? What are they trying to pretend that something is happening. NOTHING is happening.

    In addition, this basic city report was prepared by the Economic Development Office that should have spent its time at actually developing the economics and business development of this city.

    People are watching this council closely, and will not allow the general population to be fooled much longer.