An election promise? License plate renewal stickers to be eliminated

By Staff

February 22, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

Be advised – there will be a provincial election on June 2, 2022

The Ontario government is making life more affordable and convenient for nearly eight million vehicle owners by eliminating licence plate renewal fees and the requirement to have a licence plate sticker for passenger vehicles, light-duty trucks, motorcycles and mopeds, effective March 13, 2022.

“As the cost of living continues to go up, our government is cutting costs for families to make life more affordable,” said Premier Doug Ford. “Eliminating the fee to renew your licence plate and refunding the cost of doing so for the past two years is a concrete way we can put and keep more money in the pockets of hard-working Ontarians.”

The government is introducing red tape legislation later today that would enable the province to refund eligible individual owners of vehicles for any licence plate renewal fees paid since March 2020. Upon passage, vehicle owners will receive a cheque in the mail starting at the end of March and throughout the month of April.

“Our government is taking strong action at a time when the cost of living and doing business in Ontario is skyrocketing,” said Caroline Mulroney, Minister of Transportation. “For many families, driving is an absolute necessity. Eliminating licence plate renewal fees and stickers is part of our government’s commitment to support drivers as we continue to build Ontario’s transportation network, including by building the Bradford Bypass and Highway 413.”

To receive a refund cheque, vehicle owners who have moved recently will need to confirm that their address information on their vehicle permit or driver’s licence is up-to-date at Ontario.ca/AddressChange by March 7, 2022, and pay any outstanding fees, fines or tolls. For more information and/or assistance with changing an address, vehicles owners can call ServiceOntario’s dedicated line at 1-888-333-0049.

“Our government is putting money directly back into the pockets of Ontario families and workers to help make life more affordable,” said Ross Romano, Minister of Government and Consumer Services. “Eliminating these fees and stickers is just one of the ways we are reducing the burden on Ontarians and making it easier, quicker, and simpler for Ontarians to access critical government services.”

Under the proposal, renewal fees will also be eliminated for passenger, light duty commercial vehicles, motorcycles and mopeds that are owned by a company or business. However, no refunds will be given for the period of March 2020 to March 2022.

“Small businesses play a vital role in fostering Ontario’s economic growth,” said Nina Tangri, Associate Minister of Small Business and Red Tape Reduction. “Starting next month, eliminating renewal fees for vehicles owned by a company or business is just one of the many ways we are supporting small businesses across the province so they can continue to thrive and contribute to their communities.”

Vehicle owners will still be required to renew their licence plate every one or two years at no cost to confirm their automobile insurance is valid and pay any outstanding Highway 407 tolls and other municipal fines. The government is working with partners to develop a new, more user-friendly process that will continue to validate automobile insurance requirements, support law enforcement efforts and collect municipal fines and unpaid Highway 407 tolls.

The Ontario government is also investing in Automated Licence Plate Recognition (ALPR) technology as part of its commitment to provide police with the tools they need to do their jobs, improve public safety and strengthen roadside law enforcement efforts across the province. An ALPR system can read thousands of licence plates per minute allowing officers to process more information on licence plates. It also has the capability of capturing vehicles of interest such as amber alerts, drivers with a suspended licence, and stolen vehicles.

Renewal fees and requirements for licence plate stickers for heavy commercial vehicles and snowmobiles remain unchanged.

Quick Facts
• Eliminating renewal fees will save vehicle owners $120 a year in southern Ontario and $60 a year in Northern Ontario for passenger and light commercial vehicles.
• Vehicle owners should update their address before March 7, 2022 in order to receive a refund for fees previously paid by the end of April 2022.
• Physical licence plate stickers have been eliminated in other jurisdictions in Canada including Quebec, Saskatchewan, Northwest Territories, Manitoba and Alberta.
• Driver’s must continue to renew their driver’s licence every five years online or at a ServiceOntario centre and pay a $90 fee.
• ALPR is tested technology already being used by a number of Ontario police services.

The Gazette wishes to point out that a provincial election is scheduled to take place in June.

Return to the Front page

Appointments to Advisory Board announced

By Staff

February 22, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Appointments to the following committees, were announced by Council on the 15th; took a week to get the list from the Communications department.

 

The Waterfront Access and Protection Advisory Committee which was sunset by the city made some very useful contributions to the way the waterfront issues were managed.

Burlington Seniors’ Advisory Committee
Burlington Inclusivity Advisory Committee
Burlington Sustainable Development Advisory Committee
Burlington Accessibility Advisory Committee
Committee of Adjustment

Approve the following appointments to the Burlington Seniors’ Advisory Committee for a term to expire on December 31, 2022:
Bob Chepyha
Kerry McGregor
Peter Buckley
Margaret Doma
Sara Elkabany
Ron Minaker
Deepak Sharma

Approve the following appointments to the Burlington Inclusivity Advisory Committee for a term to expire on December 31, 2022:
Ashley Wall
Rajan Chopra
Rajan Sharma

Approve the following appointments to the Burlington Sustainable Development Committee for a term to expire on December 31, 2022:
Dave Bourns
Dave Rokosh
Sarah Merriam

Approve the following appointments to the Burlington Accessibility Advisory Committee for a term to expire on December 31, 2022:
Ken Harris
Don Prescott
Patricia Debly
Doug Benton
Cindy Bond

Committee of Adjustment, the only committee that pays its members has made some pivotal decisions on small property adjustments and approving requests for changes to a zoning.

Approve the following appointments to the Burlington Committee of Adjustment for a term to expire on December 31, 2022:
Robert Martin
Filippo Capuano (Alternate)
Hany Aly (Alternate)

 

The disappointing part of this announcement is that the appointments are just for the balance of this year; all end on December 31st, 2022.

There are a lot of new faces, which is good, new blood is vital.  However, experience counts for a lot.  It will be hard for these committees to make useful decisions.

The Gazette would like to hear what others have to say.

Return to the Front page

Marsden supports McKenna for Regional Chair

By Pepper Parr

February  21st, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The McKenna announcement that she would run for the Region of Halton Chair, was, we were pretty sure, to be followed by an announcement from Anne Marsden that she too would have her hat in the ring.

Anne Marsden during the 2014 municipal election campaign.

In the past Marsden has pulled in a very respect- able percentage  of the vote.

She surprised us with the following:

“Could not think of a better candidate for Halton Regional Chair than the Hon. Jane McKenna. She is very well informed on the Region issues that have been left to fester and become gangrenous under Carr’s blatant lack of leadership:

Official scam in terms of the claim that Burlington has a Region approved new Official Plan.

Halton’s diabolical infectious disease record that includes:

no accountability for the Halton MOH who failed to report death from West Nile Virus to Region,

no accountability for 91+ deaths and dozens of very sick people related to 10 month delay in tackling unreported C.Diff outbreak beginning weekend of April 8, 2006 at Joseph Brant, and

2018 Halton Region Councillor silence on encephalitis disease higher than Ont average

Halton taxpayers money used to build barriers rather than remove them as the law requires.

Halton police services lack of accountability in terms of vulnerable, elder and child abuse investigations.

Discriminatory practices in terms of the Halton Council delegation process that leaves vulnerable residents without a voice in Halton decision making.

Now all we need is for the appropriate Ministers to utilize the information put in their hands either directly or through Jane and set the ball rolling for her to clean up as she did after a Liberal candidate (sorry her name escapes us)  -( it was Eleanor McMahon) – interrupted the fine job she was doing as MPP beginning in 2014.

Return to the Front page

Recreation facilities opening up; vaccination screening still in place - and masks are still required.

By Staff

February 21st, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The province cut the public some slack in opening up things in the hospitality sector – they certainly needed a boost.

Burlington sent out an update on changes taking place at the recreational facilities as well as vaccination updates

Capacity at gymnasiums that are used by community groups has been increased.

Recreation facility capacity limits will be increased for rental, program and activity spaces, while ensuring requirements for physical distancing are maintained. Existing program providers and facility renters have been notified directly.

Drop-in recreation programs will increase capacity. Participants are still encouraged to register in advance. For schedule and online registration visit burlington.ca/dropinandplay. For information on how to register or to setup an account, visit burlington.ca/registration

Registered winter courses already in progress may open additional spots if possible, pending staffing, regulations, specific ratios, and maintaining physical distancing for example. Check liveandplay.burlington.ca for new spots.

Spectator seating areas remain at 50 per cent capacity, and change rooms and dressing room capacities remain limited. Occupancy levels are posted.

Proof of Vaccination and Screening

Proof of vaccination with an enhanced vaccine certificate with QR code is currently required for entry into City recreational facilities.

Masking and physical distancing is still required.

Those entering recreation facilities will be required to acknowledge posted screening questions at the point of entry. Pre-screening in advance of arrival is no longer required.

Chris Glenn, Director of Recreation, Community and Culture

Chris Glenn, Director of Recreation, Community and Culture continues to emphasize that the “Health of participants and staff will always be a top priority. We’re looking forward to safely and carefully welcoming more people back into our facilities and programs. Increasing program capacities takes time so please be patient as we work through these changes.”

 

Return to the Front page

Highway 6 from two lanes to four is vital to the continued growth of the John Munro Hamilton International Airport

By Staff

February 17th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Ontario government has procured AECOM as the successful engineering consultant to undertake a Preliminary Design and Class Environmental Assessment (EA) Update Study for the widening of Highway 6 South in the City of Hamilton. The project will increase lane capacity from two lanes to four over a nine kilometre segment between Highway 403 and Upper James Street, as part of the government’s plan to build Ontario.

Study area for a Hwy 6 expansion from two to four lanes.

Highway 6 from Highway 403 to Upper James Street is the primary connection from John Munro Hamilton International Airport to the Greater Golden Horseshoe via Highway 403.

“The widening of Highway 6 from two lanes to four is vital to the continued growth of the John Munro Hamilton International Airport and the surrounding areas,” said Donna Skelly, MPP Flamborough-Glanbrook. “This is an important step forward in our work to ensure the safe, efficient movement of people and goods here in Hamilton and across the region.”

Better access to the Hamilton Airport

The Preliminary Design and EA Update Study will include outreach to Indigenous communities, municipalities, and stakeholders including the airport and business owners, and will commence in spring 2022, with a targeted completion of spring 2024.

Quick Facts

The province has allocated more than $21 billion in funding over the next 10 years, including approximately $2.6 billion in 2021–22, to expand and repair highways and bridges.

A four-lane highway link to the Hamilton airport was originally designed and received environment assessment approval in the late 1980s. The existing two-lane road was built in 2003.

 

 

 

Return to the Front page

New Covid19 infections are still being reported but the numbers are decreasing

By Pepper Parr

February 17th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The province moves into a new part of the Roadmap to Recovery with many restrictions being lifted.

Halton Regional Medical Officer of Health Hamida Meghani told Regional Council yesterday that while things are certainly a lot better than they were in January it is still important that people be vigilant – “wear your mask when you are with people who are not part of your bubble”.

Dr. Meghani displayed some graphics that show the stages this pandemic has gone through adding that the virus is still very much with us.

The degree to which the Omicron variant impacted the province. The concern is that there could be another variant working its way towards us. The defence is ensuring that everyone is fully vaccinated.

Provinc- level testing has been cut back but the Region has been testing the effluents at the waste water treatment plants in the Region and reported that the level of the virus in the community is stable with none of the waste water treatment plants showing increases.

Testing results from waste water treatment plants

Dr. Meghani stresses again and again that this virus is passed from person to person and that the most effective way to prevent that from happening is to wear a properly fitted mask.

She produced a graphic that explains it all – adding that being fully vaccinated lessens the chances of an infection taking hold.

Look at the graphic carefully – it shows the path the virus takes.

The virus on the left and the route it takes getting to you.

Related news stories:

Province eases up on restrictions February 17th and again on March 1st.

Return to the Front page

Community Planning comes up with a 2022 Preferred Concept for the Waterfront Hotel site

By Pepper Parr

February 16th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Something like this is probably coming your way.

It is labelled the 2022 Preferred Concept for the Waterfront Hotel site that was put before about 110 people that took part in a virtual presentation Wednesday evening,

Proposed 2022 Preferred Concept – half the height of what the developer is asking for and a lot more park space.

It is considerably different than the plan the developer has before the city Community Planning department; basically half the height and much more park space..

There are two towers in the concept but they are between 15 and 17 stories each rather than the 30 and 35 storeys the developer has before the Community Planning department.

The two towers rest on a 3 storey podium instead of the five storey podium the developer is asking for.

The biggest difference is a 20 metre wide piece of land on the west side of the site that  runs from Lakeshore Road to the southern end of the property.  It was described as a needed addition to Spencer Smith Park which was described as closes to full capacity on many occasions.

There was some additional park space to the lower right of the 2022 Preferred concept.

Evan Sugden, the Bousfields Inc., planning consultant hired by the developer was  taken aback when he saw the concept and asked where the justification was for taking land to be used as park space.  He wanted to know where the report was that set out the need for additional park space.

All developments are required to provide park space, either in land or cash in lieu.

The developer wanted two soaring towers that would be 40 storeys including the podium.

While well attended the virtual meeting ran out of steam at the one hour point of a meeting that was scheduled for an hour and a half.

All members of council were reported to be in attendance but other than the Mayor none had anything to say.

The Mayor did take a shot at having a straw poll done on the spot – that didn’t work out – the consultants running the event said i would not be appropriate at this point to hold a straw poll.

Next step?  The city wants opinions and feed back from the public.  They are fully aware that this development is going to go to the Ontario Land Tribunal for a decision and they want to build the strongest case possible.

The city wants feedback from the public no later than March 1st.  For those who did not take part in the virtual meeting – the presentation was recorded and will be available on the GetInvolved section of the city web site.

 

Return to the Front page

In order to be transparent Council has directed city manager to bring in an expert

By Pepper Parr

February 16th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Transparency is a word that gets used by every member of the current city council – frequently.

They pride themselves on being transparent, but saying you are transparent doesn’t mean you are.

In the past several months many have asked why there are so any Closed Sessions of Council- and why next to nothing gets said by Council when they come out of a Closed Session.  At least two council members want the address of the property made public when they go into Closed to discuss property matters.

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte has been consistent in her efforts to bring more transparency to the business of city Council.

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte has sort of led this effort for more in the way of transparency.  She has said that she would oppose going into Closed Session when it was proposed and indeed today she did just that.

While the matter they were going into wasn’t crystal clear – it may have had to do with the possible purchase of the Bateman High School from the Board of Education.

Elsewhere in the meeting there was a bylaw passed to authorize a request for the issuing of a debenture by the Regional Municipality of Halton for a Confidential Land Acquisition.

There was no mention in the bylaw what the land acquisition was nor what the amount of the debenture was; the Region handles all the raising of loans for the municipalities.

There is no evidence that the two matters are related.  Many feel the public has a right to know what the money is being borrowed for and how much is being borrowed.

Outside legal Counsel was involved in this Closed Session that lasted about 25 minutes and when they voted to implement the decision that was made Stolte voted for it,  which suggests Stolte was Ok with the decision that was made.

Stolte has been a strong advocate for more information in the hands of the public.

But when there was an opportunity to comment in Open Session – not a word from Stolte.

Councillor Nisan wanted the city manager to immediately contract with a law firm for advice on going into Closed Session procedures.

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan, who doesn’t have much in the way of a getting along well with Stolte relationship (they differ on many procedural issues), put forward a motion that directed the City Manager to immediately contract with the law firm Aird and Berlis to guide the city on its procedures and policies on the matter of Closed Meetings.

There is a procedure for a citizen to complain about Closed Sessions of Council.  Mayor Meed Ward said it was all set out on the city web site.

The sticking point would be appear to be with the city legal department.  They appear to be asking that a Session be Closed and the Clerk goes along with it.

I don’t recall this Council or any other for that matter, being opposed to going into a Closed Session

Mayor Meed Ward then made this comment.  “There are times when I work quietly behind the scene”.

THAT by any stretch of the imagination is not a definition of transparency.

Much more to this story.

 

 

Return to the Front page

City Council Workshop: A closer look at our relationship with the Indigenous community

By Pepper Parr

February 15th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Monday afternoon City Council held an Indigenous education workshop. It was, unfortunately not widely promoted by members of Council or the city’s communications department.  Unfortunate.

The name Joseph Brant is well recognized; his role in the development of the land that was territory the Indigenous people lived on is not that well understood.

They own precious little of that land today.  The workshop is about how that came to be.

The Mississauga of the Credit First Nation lay claim to a large area; the part known as the Haldimand Tract is tightly tied to Joseph Brant.

Over time land was taken from the Indigenous community through different treaties.

There were two main speakers who had a lot to say. You might want to listen to:

Darin Wybenga, Acting Director and Traditional Knowledge and Land Use Coordinator, Mississauga of the Credit First Nation, who  spoke on; “Mississauga of the Credit First Nation – We are Still Here.”

Indeed they are

There was a time when the majority of people living in what is Canada today believed what the Indian Act said.

Following Darin Wybenga is Bryant Peters, College Instructor at Fleming College and Executive Consultant from the Sandy Bay Ojibway First Nation, who spoke about the:  Indian Act – What Can We Do?

It looked at one point if Peters was going to read every section of the Indian Act – a very repressive piece of legislation that is still in place.

Both speakers made extensive use of visuals and maps.

It should be well worth your time to spend some time listening to what was said.  We will have more to tell you about this Workshop later in the week.

Burlington, like most local governments, now reads a land acknowledgement before each meeting.

If Darin Wybenga is correct, and he probably is, our reference to the Bowl with one spoon wampum is incorrect.  Look for Council to correct that error.

Wampum belts were used as signatories to commemorate and, to some degree, legitimize an event.

The biggest lesson this writer learned was the significant difference between what the Indigenous people thought when they were signing a land treaty and the view the British had.

The British believed they were acquiring land which they described and defined in the treaties; the Indigenous people believed they were agreeing to share the land.

They were either not able to or didn’t know how to get that language into the treaties.

As a result they are left with bits and pieces of the land they inhabited. The 4 million acres they started with was whittled down to 200 acres.

And we wonder why they are angry.

Return to the Front page

Region wrestles with where the population growth is going to take place - farm land is at risk.

By Staff

February 11th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Earlier this week Regional Council spent the best part of a day working their way through a 2000 page document on the Growth Concepts before Council.

The purpose of the meeting was to Review the Draft Preferred Growth Concept that will be part of the Regional Official Plan.

The Gazette will need another day or two (there goes the weekend) to distill the document and set out what it means to the people who live in the four municipalities that make up the Region of Halton.

The issue of population growth…

The Region has to grow – that isn’t something that can be debated – where the politicians can have an impact is on where the growth will take place.

Colin Best, a Milton Town Coucillor, has a firm grip on the numbers- his professional work is related to property assessment.

There is one document (above) that sets out what the politicians are dealing with.

That is the direction in which we are going, like it or not.

 

Return to the Front page

Covid19 rapid tests are now available free at 32 locations in Burlington

By Staff

February 10th

BURLINGTON.ON

 

And it doesn’t hurt.

Ontario is distributing FREE COVID RAPID TESTS to the general population as supply increases.

Starting today, over 2,300 participating grocery and pharmacy locations — including 32 locations in Burlington — will provide free rapid tests, with a limit of one box of five tests per household per visit.

A list of participating retailers as well as information on how retail locations are distributing rapid test kits can be found at Ontario.ca/rapidtest

 

Return to the Front page

Waterfront Study to re-start on the 15th - meanwhile Planning department processes an application to build two towers

By Pepper Parr

February 9th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City of Burlington Planning department is working feverishly on an application development to build two towers – one 35 and the other 30 storeys that will sit atop a five story podium.

This application has to be presented to council not later than April 15th or it can be taken to the Ontario Land Tribunal for a non-decision appeal.

Municipalities have 120 days to respond with a decision on a development application.

At the same time the City of Burlington is resuming work on the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study. When the study is completed, it will provide guidance in the redevelopment of this site.

Located next to two of Burlington’s most significant landmarks, Spencer Smith Park and the Brant Street Pier, the City is asking for input to make sure the new development reflects a high quality of urban design that enhances the community’s access to the waterfront and the downtown.

The fact that there is a development application for land in the centre of that waterfront study area would suggest that the die has already been cast.

Within the same general time frame, February 22nd, there is a Statutory Public meeting on the development application which will have the Planning department setting out the issues and the developer explaining what they plan to do.

Virtual Public Open House – Feb. 15
Residents are invited to join a virtual public open house to talk about the study process and hear from City staff and the consultant team, The Planning Partnership, who will present the preferred concept plan for the site. There will be a Q & A period following the presentation. The open house is on:
Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022
7 to 8:30 p.m.
Zoom or dial +1 647 374 4685 by telephone and enter meeting ID 813 0521 1078

Residents also have the opportunity to learn more about the planning study on the City’s online engagement platform, Get Involved Burlington.

The Waterfront Hotel Planning Study is separate from the development application process.  This sentence fails to add that there is an application for development approval before the Planning department now.

2020 Lakeshore Rd. Statutory Public Meeting – Feb. 22
The City will hold a Statutory Public Meeting under the Planning Act to consider the City staff report concerning the development application for 2020 Lakeshore Rd. City staff will be recommending that Council direct staff to continue to review and process the application. Due to COVID-19, this Statutory Public Meeting will be held virtually.

This meeting will take place on:

Tuesday, Feb. 22, 2022
6:30 p.m.
Virtual Meeting that will be on the city web site

To view the meeting details, the Meeting Notice [PDF] or to register to delegate, visit burlington.ca/2020lakeshore.

This is the developers architectural rendering of what they would like to build.

Planning Study Background
In 2017 and 2018, the City began the planning study to guide the redevelopment of the waterfront site at Lakeshore Road and the foot of Brant Street, including the Waterfront Hotel at 2020 Lakeshore Rd. City staff gathered feedback through visioning workshops, public and stakeholder engagement.

In mid-2018, the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study was placed on hold due to other Council directed priorities such as the New Official Plan process.

On Jan. 11, 2022, City staff presented Council with a study update through staff report.

Why the study can resume
The City is able to resume the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study at this time because:

• the re-examination of the New Official Plan Project, including Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown, has been completed,

• approval of the new Official Plan (under appeal), as well as

• the Minster of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s approval, with modifications, of the Regional Official Plan Amendment 48.

City staff, with support from the project consultant, will pick up the work where it left off in 2018, and complete the study. The work is estimated to take four months and will use community input to-date to help develop a final preferred concept.

The City has this work remaining:
• Phase 4: Report and Recommendation of Preferred Land Use Concept, Q1 2022
This phase of the study involves the selection of a preferred concept and the preparation of a Planning Justification Report.
• Phase 5: Official Plan Policies, Zoning and Urban Design Guidelines, Q2 2022

The fifth phase of the study includes the development of draft site-specific official plan policies, zoning regulations and urban design and implementation guidelines. This phase will also include a public open house, presentation to Committee and final delivery of the implementing Official Plan Amendment and

Determining what should be built on the waterfront hotel property has gone through a number of concepts. The Waterfront study restart will pick up where things were back in 2019 when it was paused.

Marianne Meed Ward – moments before she was sworn in as Mayor.

Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward made the following comments:
“We know the Waterfront Hotel is a key site in our city, right next to our cherished downtown waterfront park. We know we have to get it right, and the time is now, with the Waterfront Hotel study starting up again, and an active application for redevelopment filed. We also need to ensure the public has every opportunity to share their feedback. That’s why Councillor Kearns and I worked together on a motion to direct staff to complete the study and the application review within the required statutory time frames — so we can record a decision as a community on this site, and not risk an appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal for non-decision within the deadline. The best way you can shape the future of what happens here is to participate in both the study, as well as the development application review. ”

Ward 2 City Councillor Lisa Kearns spoke a little more forcefully: “We have heard loud and clear that residents place an extraordinary value on Burlington’s Waterfront. Development concerning the Waterfront Hotel site is extremely important to Ward 2 residents and to residents across our city. The outcome of an active development proposal is paramount to the future of our Waterfront and Spencer Smith Park, not to mention our downtown businesses and residents alike.

Lisa Kearns – ward 2 Councillor

“I encourage everyone to get engaged with the study information, subscribe to the Get Involved page for updates and attend the meetings on the Hotel Study on Feb. 15. and the Statutory Public Meeting on Feb. 22. The City will make a decision on this planning file to ensure that the decision is made at the local level. Let’s come together to give our feedback and make sure the new development results in a property that supports the community’s waterfront and downtown experience.”

Related news stories:

Is there a better way to develop this critical part of the city?

If you haven’t heard of Plan B – check them out.

The Plan B web site:

Return to the Front page

Regional Councilors still not ready to have a full debate on the future population levels that will be put in place

By Staff

February 8th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Determining just how much in the way of new population is going to be determined for each of the four municipalities in the Region was always a political decision.

The Region has been stick handling this for some time.

Someone at the Region thought the issue was ready for a Statutory Meeting where the issues and a sense as to what direction would would be set.

The political people realized that this was not the time for a Statutory meeting and changed the format of the meeting to a workshop.  There would be no delegations at the workshop – just open debate and discussion.

Turns out the Regional Councillors were not ready for a workshop either.

Set out below is the order in which changes in the meetings went:

The recommendation on the Preferred Growth Concept will not be considered by Regional Council on February 9, 2022 as originally scheduled. The consideration of the Preferred Concept will be rescheduled to a future meeting. There will be an opportunity for the public to provide written submissions and delegations at that time. To register and receive a notification when the opportunity becomes available, please email the Regional Clerk.

A Regional Council Workshop on the Preferred Growth Concept has now been scheduled for February 9 at 9:30 a.m. At the Workshop, Regional staff will present updated information and respond to questions and requests for clarification regarding the Preferred Growth Concept. Under Halton’s Procedural By-law, delegations are not permitted at Council Workshops however the public is welcome to observe the live-streaming of the Workshop on our website.

The Statutory Public Meeting scheduled for 9 a.m. on February 9, 2022 about a Regional Official Plan Amendment application related to the Milton Education Village will proceed as planned.

This is a critical issue – better that they get it right the first time.

Related news story:

Councillor Sharman explains what is happening at the Region on population growth.

Return to the Front page

Development news that was sent to a limited group of people - an open and transparent civic administration would have and could have sent the information to everyone.

By Staff

February 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A number of weeks ago the city mailed out notices to residents who lived within a 200 metre radius from the proposed Waterfront Hotel re-development.

There is a city bylaw in place that requires this to be done.

Given the significance of the proposed development one wonders why the mailing was not sent to every household in the city or at least everything south of Dundas.

The notice is four pages long – we are making it available.

Related news story:

Return to the Front page

City of Burlington’s website and some web applications temporarily unavailable for scheduled maintenance between Feb. 15 at 10 p.m. and Feb. 16 at 2 a.m

The City of Burlington’s website, www.burlington.ca, and some web applications will be temporarily unavailable between Feb. 15 at 10 p.m. and Feb. 16 at 2 a.m. for scheduled maintenance.

A handful of technical types will be working late upgrading the city’s web site and many of the applications they run.

During the temporary shut down, the following websites and applications will not be available:

  • Parking ticket payment
  • Parking permit renewal
  • Parking exemption request
  • New dog licenses
  • Renew dog licenses
  • Tax assessment lookup
  • Business license renewal
  • Senior property tax rebates application
  • Property information requests
  • Marriage licenses
  • My festival and events applications

The following City of Burlington web applications will not be impacted:

The maintenance work has been scheduled in the evening hours to be as minimally invasive as possible. Thank you for your patience and understanding.

 

Return to the Front page

School Board will rent part of the school they want to sell - 25 year lease

By Pepper Parr

February 8th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There was a lot of jabbering by the City of Burlington and the Halton District School Board about the sale of what used to be the Robert Bateman High school.

The School Board had announced that the property was surplus to its needs except for some pace they would use for the Gary Allen Learning Centre which is just up the road from the high school.

While this is just a concept a this point the Board of Education is in for a 25 year lease and Brock University is looking for a new home for one of their faculties. It could be a win win

Both the City and the School Board issued statements recently without adding anything new to a project that has been reported to have a $50 million price tag attached to it.

Some people have asked if there asbestos insulation in the building – no answers to that question yet.

There are significant benefits to the City if the project ever results in a sale that doesn’t kick the stuffing out of the budget and the various reserve accounts.

The plan at this point is to provide the HDSB with a 25-year lease to accommodate Gary Allan Learning Centre, which provides adult, alternative and continuing education programs, and language instruction programs for newcomers, among others.

It is a very large piece of land that the Board of education no longer needs and the city thinks it can be re-purposed.

The Board of Education will pocket a healthy sum – the question that hasn’t been asked – is what will happen to the Gary Allan Learning Centre property once its operations get moved over to the Bateman property.

And what will the name of this new landmark be?

Return to the Front page

Housing spokesperson sees much needed but difficult changes about to take place

By Pepper Parr

February 7th, 2022

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Almost every economic sector has an organization that serves as spokespeople for their interests.  Electricians, architects, truckers, chemists, doctors – they all have an organization that represents how they relate to the public.

In our part of the world the development and home builders interests are represented by the now named West End Home Builders Association, (WEHBA), a not for profit organization that was formerly known as Hamilton Halton Home Builders Association.

Michael Collins Williams: CEO – WEHBA

The CEO of WEHBA, Michael Collins Williams has brought a new tone and approach to the organization.

He also put in play the new strategic plan put in place when he was brought on board.

He surprised a lot of people when he spoke very positively about the role the development industry should and would be playing in the creation of affordable housing.

Mike, raised in Mississauga, attended Ryerson where he studied urban planning.  He is a registered Planner who is firm in the belief that communities are living breathing places where people choose to live and become part of a place that is constantly evolving.

Change is the one constant Mike works with.  The WEHBA is part of the Ontario association that is tied into the federal association. There are 26 local associations in Ontario.   Mike came to the WEHBA from the Ontario association.

When asked to name the best city he named Copenhagen, a city that made a conscious decision in the 70’s to make cycling a critical part of the way people get around.

Changes of this magnitude take time added Collins-Williams.

He should know, the WEHBA is in the middle of a social change that is not going to go away any time soon.  Housing has become both unaffordable and unattainable for many.  “We are in a housing crisis that is proving to be a challenge at every political level.”

Change means tension he adds and that puts stress on all the players.

Development is a capital intensive business.  The bigger players have had land banked for some time.  And they have deep pockets – the developing of housing is a very complex with many layers that add to the cost of a home and are passed along to buyers.

The city and the developers are arm wrestling over what the development charges are going to be.  They have remained the same for years and the city wants them increased so that they cover all their costs.  The developers are arguing that some of the costs the city has included are not legitimate and add that the development charges end up being passed onto the home buyers.

In order for the growth to take place a lot of capital will be needed and much more sophistication that the small and medium sized builders have not been able to bring to the table.

Burlington has an active Housing Strategy Project on which Michael Collins-Williams is giving the participants a viewpoint from the development sector few have heard before.

“Expect to see some consolidation and changes in the way business is done. This is too significant an issue; one that has to be resolved and that means everyone adjusting.”

“Public policy will play a large role in getting the housing built, things will have to be done faster, time lines at every level, especially the municipal level where permits and approvals are issued.

“The needed changes are not going to be easy to achieve.

“If we fail to provide the housing people need at prices they can afford the young will move to places where they can afford to live and raise their families.

“We are going to see some interesting unintentional partnerships being formed.

“Labour and supply chain issues are a concern now – they need to be overcome.

The baby boomers changed everything as they became the largest demographic; the millennials will do the same when they become the largest demographic.  However the baby boomers are still the dominant social force and they have to be dealt with.

And we must not forget that the millennials are talented and more mobile than any demographic before them.  The best and the brightest are being educated here and while they are mobile, home still counts.

Collins-Williams swings between being optimistic and pessimistic.  He optimism is cautious.

We asked Mike to tell us what he saw as good architecture and he said he tended to favour the brutalist style.   That came as a surprise especially when he commented on the Robarts Library at U of T and the Manulife Centre in Toronto as favourite architecture.

Michael Collins-Williams preference in public architecture was a bit of a surprise.  Above the Robarts Library and the Manulife Centre to the right.

Related news story:

Housing industry spokesperson insists that developers and all three levels of government have to be at the table if there is ever going to be affordable housing.

Return to the Front page

Barbetta: 'There are people who poison their trees in order to weaken them so that they have to be taken down'

By Staff

February 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Leslie Barbetta is part of the Active Community Teamwork (ACT) neighbourhood association. Her current focus is the Forestry Department Policy and the Private Tree By-law.

She lives in the Shoreacres neighbourhood in large part because of the mature trees. “They are a source of pride and joy, and as their “caretakers”, we have been rewarded in return by their beauty.

These trees will come down to allow high rise towers. It will take decades to replace them.

“There are occasions” she said, “when these pillars of the community create challenges and over the last few years, we’ve called on our Councillor and the Forestry department for assistance in addressing some of those concerns.

“We have learned a great deal as a result of these interactions and our own research. Today I’d like to speak to the Policy’s four categories of activities for a healthy urban forest, and highlight the partnership role that a community group can play in supporting this Policy by identifying some successes and areas of concern:

Barbetta set out the four categories and added comments on what the ACT people would like to see done.

Preserve and Protect
The City shall support the preservation of trees by:
‣ exploring all feasible options for retaining a viable tree before deciding to remove it;
‣ requiring that opportunities to preserve trees are considered through the development process for public and private lands;
‣ requiring special consideration for significant trees;
‣ generally refusing requests for tree removal based solely on reasons related to aesthetics or other similar factors;

Questions/Comments:
– Please identify when permission has been granted to remove a tree! It’s no exaggeration to state that the sound of a chainsaw sends a shiver up our backs and a flurry of texts or emails between neighbours about why a tree is coming down.
– What is the level of concern in Forestry that Arborists’ Reports may sometimes be “skewed” in favour of development plans? It is thought that some experts will support whichever narrative they are being paid to support.
– Within the significant tree description, would also like to see the inclusion of unique or underrepresented or endangered species (including non-native varieties)

Maintain and Monitor
The City shall:
‣ provide guidance to private property owners with respect to current trends in urban forest health and best management practices;

Questions/Comments:
– Please elaborate on what this guidance would entail. We have witnessed homeowners take “maintenance” of mature trees into their own hands, impacting the tree’s aesthetics, and comprising its health & safety, as well as their own personal safety. We often hear rumblings that some property owners have taken to “poisoning” their trees, in an effort to weaken them and ultimately circumvent some of the time and expense involved with the Private Tree By-law.
– In supporting all efforts to protect our tree canopy, we recognize that there are occasional unique circumstances where City trees cause unintentional problems for homeowners, particularly with mature trees in established neighbourhood. When these situations arise, we would like to ensure there is an opportunity to work with Staff towards a solution or reasonable compromise because complicated situations cannot always be resolved over email or by citing Policy & By-law.

Establish, Replace and Enhance
The City shall support proper tree establishment by:

‣ supporting tree planting initiatives of all scales on public and private properties with volunteers and partners as opportunities arise;
The City shall work to ensure the urban forest and tree canopy are sustained and enhanced by:

‣ implementing a plan for replacement where trees are removed on public and private lands;
‣ encouraging tree replacement on-site but evaluating the possibilities for off-site tree replacements, in part or in whole, where the compensation cannot be accommodated
on site and where feasible alternative locations are identified.

Questions/Comments:
– Within our community group, there are individuals who have volunteered to not only help identify private lands that would benefit from new or restorative planting, but assist with the physical planting effort as well. Sometimes the only thing that prevents these opportunities on private lands is lack of awareness of the issue.
– Where new development results in loss of trees and ultimately loss of privacy on adjacent lands, allow for replacement plantings on those properties.

Engage and Collaborate
• The City shall actively pursue opportunities to engage with members of the community and external partners to promote proper tree establishment and care, including use of incentives as appropriate.

• The City shall collaborate with existing and new partners to increase its capacity to establish and enhance the urban forest on public and private lands.

• The City is committed to employing communication methods and tools that are transparent, and to providing accurate information in a clear and concise manner that is also accessible.

Questions/Comments:
– We support any effort to work with community groups to assist with tree canopy goals.
As a result of establishing connections with the Forestry Dept, we have been able to achieve the following: share details about the City’s Tree Planting Program; answer our members’ questions about Forestry practices, saving staff time; when we don’t have the answer, we will forward those queries, which has a twofold benefit: helps to streamline the communication process and then share the response with a wider audience, and helps foster relationships between Forestry staff and one or two primary neighbourhood contacts.
– To share a recent success story, our community was recently given the opportunity to select a new tree for the neighbourhood that will symbolically honour several community-minded residents who are no longer with us. I cannot express how much this meant to some people. Such a simple example of the good that can happen when a City and its residents work together.
– Speaking to the communication & transparency component, a recent inquiry through the CRM platform informed us that the City does not bear responsibility for a particular tree matter. A By-law was cited, however this information does not appear to be available on the City’s website without doing a records request.
– ACT can arrange engagement opportunities between Forestry and our community to assist in the educational component of our By-laws and Protection Policy,

“With common goals, shared resources, and an open line of communication, there are many opportunities for ACT to work in partnership with Forestry – and any City department for that matter.”

Council liked what they heard, going forward the challenge will be to turn intentions into decisions that can keep the tree canopy we have and grow what is going to be needed in the future.

 

Return to the Front page

Pop up events to make people aware of population growth plans to take place on Saturday

By Staff

February 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The growth that municipalities have to take on to reach the provincially determined population levels has a lot of people concerned about  losses of rural agricultural land to residential development.

The rural Burlington that the Stop the Sprawl group wants to keep.

Stop Sprawl Halton will be holding COVID-safe pop-up events this Saturday, February 5th, 1:30pm – 2pm

Oakville & Burlington — Stop Sprawl Halton announces two COVID-safe pop-up events, one in Oakville, the other in Burlington, to spread awareness to protect irreplaceable Halton farmland.

Locations —    N.E. corner of Trafalgar and Cornwall in Oakville

North Service Rd. and Brant St. in Burlington

What — Stop Sprawl Halton will host two peaceful, COVID-safe, pop-up events this Saturday, to spread awareness about the Region’s plans to expand the urban boundary, and to hand out free “Save Our Farms” lawn signs.

Safety – Participants must wear a mask and remain 6’ apart from others at all times. They must also remain on the intersection sidewalks, and not interfere with traffic.

About Stop Sprawl Halton – Stop Sprawl Halton (SSH) is a grass-roots organization that coalesced after Hamilton’s Stop Sprawl campaign won a “no urban boundary expansion” vote at Hamilton City Council on November 19, 2021. Like other Stop Sprawl campaigns developing in municipalities across Southern Ontario, Stop Sprawl Halton is a champion for vibrant, sustainable growth within existing urban boundaries. SSH believes the provincially mandated growth targets can be achieved through modest singles and semi-detached homes, combined with other low-rise forms, in mixed-use communities.

 

Return to the Front page

Waterfront study resumes February 15th; expected to last four months - meanwhile Planning staff work flat out to complete their work before an April 17th deadline.

By Pepper Parr

February 4th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City is resuming work on the Waterfront Hotel Site Planning Study.

When the study is completed, it will provide guidance in the redevelopment of this site.

The white dotted line is the boundary of the site – the dark blue in the centre is the site of the hotel property

Located next to two of Burlington’s most significant landmarks, Spencer Smith Park and the Brant Street Pier, the City is asking for input to make sure the new development reflects a high quality of urban design that enhances the community’s access to the waterfront and the downtown.

Virtual Public Open House – Feb. 15
Residents are invited to join a virtual public open house to talk about the study process and hear from City staff and the city consultant team, The Planning Partnership, who will present the preferred concept plan for the site. There will be a Q & A period following the presentation.

The open house is on Tuesday, Feb. 15, 2022 7:00 to 8:30 p.m.
Zoom or dial +1 647 374 4685 by telephone and enter meeting ID 813 0521 1078

Residents also have the opportunity to learn more about the planning study on the City’s online engagement platform,

The Waterfront Hotel Planning Study is separate from the development application process.

And that is where this gets messy – very messy.

The Planning department is working furiously to have a report to Council before April 17 with either

A recommendation to approve the development
A recommendation to approve the development with changes
A recommendation to not approve the development.

The information given to the public last September was for two towers; one 30 storeys and the other 35 storey – both sitting on a five story podium.

The very painful truth with this development is that far too few people know very much about it.

The public first got wind of it when a pre-application community consultation took place.

Graphics and raw data on this project have been very difficult to come by – the Gazette had to threaten legal action to get a copy of what was a public report. The entrance to the site was to be from John Street, one block east of Brant. The light blue space in the very centre of this graphic will be a breezeway leading from Lakeshore to the steep steps that will lead into Spencer Smith Park. The light green will be amenity space for the tower residents. The tan coloured space will be open and where the public can gather The new hotel is shown in darker blue. The residential towers are in pink. The Gazette has not been able to have conversations with the developer’s planners.

The Gazette has been reporting on this situation for some time – all the way back to 2015 when the city was putting together some ideas as to just what could happen with the Waterfront Hotel site when it was eventually re-developed.

Centre – former city Councillor John Taylor in conversation with Linda Davies, owner of the leading condo real estate sales broker on the right and Dee Dee Davies at one of the public meetings in 2018

The city put together a process that had the developer agreeing to pay the full cost of a review that would include significant public input.

And those meetings took place – there were  four of them out of which came a number of concepts – but no consensus – and then for reasons which look pretty weak, the city put a pause on the waterfront study.

The developer didn’t pause.

As early as August, the Burlington Urban Design group was meeting and providing comment on the development.

They engaged planning consults and architects and met with people in the Planning department to advance their development application.

Members of Council knew what was taking place – but the public didn’t.

Members of Council are still saying very little – they have all taken the position that they cannot make statements until they have a Planning Staff report in front of them.

So here we are with two very different streams of activity taking place at the same time about the same piece of land

The developer pushing their application – and the city reviving a study that should have been completed years ago.

Close on the heals of the study re-start is a Statutory Public meeting required under the Planning Act that is to take place on February 22nd at 6:30 p.m.  It too will be a virtual meeting.

In a media release from City Hall on Thursday we learned that Planning Staff will be recommending that Council direct staff to continue to review and process the application.

Planning Study Background
In 2017 and 2018 (the Gazette interviewed a member of the Planning staff in 2015 on this study proposal) the City began looking at a planning study to guide the redevelopment of the waterfront site at Lakeshore Road and the foot of Brant Street, including the Waterfront Hotel at 2020 Lakeshore Road., City staff gathered feedback through visioning workshops, public and stakeholder engagement.

In mid-2018, the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study was placed on hold due to other priorities in the Community Planning Department.

A number of design concepts have come forward – no consensus yet.

Why the study can resume
In its media release the City said it is able to resume the Waterfront Hotel Planning Study at this time because:

• the re-examination of the New Official Plan Project, including Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown, has been completed,
• approval of the new Official Plan (under appeal), as well as
• the Minster of Municipal Affairs and Housing’s approval, with modifications, of the Regional Official Plan Amendment 48.

City staff, with support from the project consultant, will pick up the work where it left off in 2018, and complete the study. The work is estimated to take four months and will use community input to-date to help develop a final preferred concept.

The City has this work remaining:

Phase 4: Report and Recommendation of Preferred Land Use Concept, Q1 2022
This phase of the study involves the selection of a preferred concept and the preparation of a Planning Justification Report.

• Phase 5: Official Plan Policies, Zoning and Urban Design Guidelines, Q2 2022

The fifth phase of the study includes the development of draft site-specific official plan policies, zoning regulations and implementation guidelines. This phase will also include a public open house, presentation to Committee and final delivery of the implementing Official Plan Amendment and Zoning Bylaw Amendment.

It all gets messier and tighter in terms of time frames.

When a developer takes an application to the city – the Planning department has 120 days to make a recommendation to council.  That recommendation can be to not proceed or to proceed with changes or to give it a rubber stamp and tell the developer to bring in the cranes and start building.

The developers submitted their plan on December 17th, the Planning department told Council they didn’t think the application was complete.  There was a lot of scurrying around and the city was able to say that the application was indeed complete.  Close to 30 days of very valuable staff work was lost.  The city will tell you that there was no time lost – don’t believe them.

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns

Ward 2 Councillor Lisa Kearns brought forward a motion at Council directing Staff to complete their work and make a presentation to Council before April 17th, 2022.   She wanted to be as certain as possible that the city did not find itself before the Ontario Land Tribunal for failing to deliver a report within that 120 requirement.

Nothing was to be built west of the line Plan B drew.

Included in all this are the brave efforts of Plan B – a small group of citizens who objected strongly to the concept designs that were being shown.  They had a concept that would keep development within a “thin red line”.

The city’s Mayor said: “We know the Waterfront Hotel is a key site in our city, right next to our cherished downtown waterfront park. We know we have to get it right, and the time is now, with the Waterfront Hotel study starting up again, and an active application for redevelopment filed.

“We also need to ensure the public has every opportunity to share their feedback. That’s why Councillor Kearns and I worked together on a motion to direct staff to complete the study and the application review within the required statutory time frames — so we can record a decision as a community on this site, and not risk an appeal to the Ontario Land Tribunal for non-decision within the deadline.

“The best way you can shape the future of what happens here is to participate in both the study, as well as the development application review. We welcome your input and look forward to those discussions.”

Ward 2 City Councillor Lisa Kearns said: “We have heard loud and clear that residents place an extraordinary value on Burlington’s Waterfront. Development concerning the Waterfront Hotel site is extremely important to Ward 2 residents and to residents across our city. The outcome of an active development proposal is paramount to the future of our Waterfront and Spencer Smith Park, not to mention our downtown businesses and residents alike.

The development plans as they stand now will result in a Burlington few significantly than what is in place now.

Renderings that show the development relative to Spencer Smith Park and the Pier.

On the left is the view of the lake from Lakeshore Road at Brant. On the right the view from the same spot looking north up John Street.

What is at stake here is the heart of the city – Ground Zero – the intersection of Lakeshore Road and Brant Street and the look and feel of the downtown core for decades.

How different city Councils let things get to the point we are at now boggles the imagination.

Related news stories:

Plan B was trying to get some traction within the Planning department and with the public.

The time line of a very sad story.

Are there other options.

Return to the Front page