Solid content at the Standing Committee today

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

September 8, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It has been a full week for city council and it isn’t over yet.

Two solid days of significant work, a full city Council meeting at which they passed the version of the Official Plan that Mayor Meed Ward has been pushing since the day she stood on a cul de sac announcing her plans to run for the office of Mayor.

That she was going to run was no surprise – she had her eyes on the Office of Mayor from the day she nominated herself for the Ward 2 seat in 2010.

On Thursday, Council will be doing in depth reporting on four significant projects that are costing millions:

Enterprise Resource Planning (ERP),

Enterprise Asset Management System (EAMS),

Customer Relationship Management (CRM) and

Business Intelligence Program (BI).

The level of detail they are going to give is impressive. We will cover each of the four in separate articles.

Staff will also be doing a presentation on Managing Change.

The final screen is set out below.

CHANGE MANAG SLIDE

Indeed – what is next?

A number of months ago the Human Resources Department put out a report that was stunning for its transparency and downright painful honesty.

It looks as if the content of that report was taken seriously – the presentation Council will hear tomorrow looks as if it is the beginning of a serious effort to change both the working culture in place at city hall and for a different look at what it means for a person to be a municipal civil servant.

The link below to the Human Resources report is one of the most critical reports council was given – it is well worth a read – that data is close to explosive at times.

That Human Resources Report

 

Return to the Front page

Ireland House Museum offering private group workshops.

eventsorange 100x100By Staff

October 7th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Book a Heritage Workshop at Ireland House Museum with your private group of 4-6 people, $30/person.

Heritage workshop graphicAll workshops take place in the historic house at the hearth and are available on Saturdays (beginning in November), Sundays (sold out in October) and Mondays. Workshops include all supplies and a guided tour of Ireland House Museum. Masks are mandatory. We offer a choice of one of three experiences:

• Heritage Fall Baking Workshop
• Heritage Food Preservation Workshop
• Heritage Soups & Stews Workshop

This is one way to get out of the house and enjoy something other than Netflix.

For the truly creative – you might order in a lunch, with a decent wine (it is a private lunch) and make a day of it.

Link to the booking page is HERE

Return to the Front page

Residents invited to take part in high powered panel to discuss city Integrated Mobility Plan

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

October 7th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Residents are invited to participate in yet another free virtual event on the City’s Integrated Mobility Plan.

The City of Burlington is inviting residents to register for the upcoming free ZOOM event on the City’s Integrated Mobility Plan. Learn more about the commencement of the Integrated Mobility Plan study in this virtual facilitated panel discussion on Thursday, Oct. 15, 2020 from 7 to 9 p.m.

Join the virtual panel discussion with industry leaders where we’ll explore:

• the future of mobility,
• opportunities and challenges related to public health and the environment,
• social impacts of transportation and
• how planning for a multi-modal transportation network will shape how we’ll get around over the next 25 years.

Panel Participants
Moderator: Mary Rowe, President and CEO, Canadian Urban Institute
Panelists:
Dr. Dianne Saxe, Environmental and Climate Lawyer
Dr. Amed El-Geneidy, Professor, School of Urban Planning, McGill
Robin Mazumder, Urban Neuroscientist, Doctoral Candidate at the University of Waterloo
Nancy Smith Lea, Director, The Centre for Active Transportation
Todd Litman, Founder and Executive Director of the Victoria Transport Policy Institute

Burlington’s Integrated Mobility Plan
Integrated Mobil PlanWork on Burlington’s Integrated Mobility Plan is underway. The plan will be built around eight pillars which, when implemented, will result in a new era of transportation that:

• Provides a wide range of options for getting around regardless of age, means or ability, including walking, cycling, public transit and automobiles
• Uses compact modes of travel like buses, bicycles and walking to efficiently move larger number of people
• Is well connected to transportation systems in surrounding regions
• Offers fast, reliable and more frequent transit
• Features improved facilities and safety for cyclists and pedestrians

The eight pillars of integrated mobility are:

1. Align land use and transportation
2. Connected mobility
3. Healthy and safe
4. Moving people efficiently
5. Managing congestion
6. Sustainability
7. Affordability
8. Innovation and integration

For more information about Burlington’s Integrated Mobility Plan and to register for this event, please visit www.burlington.ca/IMP

Kaylan Edgexxx

Kaylan Edgecumbe, Manager of Integrated Mobility Transportation Services

Kaylan Edgecumbe, Manager of Integrated Mobility Transportation Services explains that “Over the next 25 years, the City of Burlington is going to grow in its urban areas and we need to provide people with choices on how they will move through our city. It is important we design and build a transportation model that will support people of all ages and abilities with options like walking, cycling and transit.

“Building more roadways is no longer sustainable and this integrated mobility work will have a great impact on our communities and climate change for future generations.”

Return to the Front page

Council passes a new Official Plan

Newsflash 100By Pepper Parr

October 7th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

At 10:26 am, Burlington city council approved their version of an Official Plan.

MMW Spec Coun meet OP

Mayor Meed Ward chairing an historic city council meeting – the day Council approved a new Official Plan. Did she break out the champagne?

For Mayor Meed Ward it was a Hallelujah moment.

Ward 5 Councillor Paul Sharman did not vote for approval of the plan.

In her comments Meed Ward said: “This is a very pleasing moment.”

In 2018 the then Council approved and adopted a plan that would have permitted 30 high rise buildings in the down town core as well as a 117 storey tower in Village Square, said Meed Ward. She added that she was the only person to vote against that plan at the time.

Mayor Meed Ward

Marianne Meed Ward – Moments before being sworn into office.

Shortly after the plan was approved by the 2014-18 Council Meed Ward got herself elected as Mayor with a significantly different council.

That council chose to do numerous studies that got them to where they are today which the Mayor said was a fully transparent process. The level of transparency is questionable – something we will detail in a separate article.

There were concerns about the nine amendments Meed Ward put on the table. She said this morning that Staff are in place to give Council their best thinking but that Council had a “more and ethical responsibility” to reflect the views of the people that voted them into office.

“Council is not a rubber stamp” she added.

It is a big day for this Council.

Only the future will tell if the right decisions were made – which is what politics is all about.

Return to the Front page

Old Timers Hockey Club has suspended all games until further notice

sportsred 100x100By Pepper Parr

October 7th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The increase in COVID infections in the community has led the Old Timers Hockey Club to suspend games until further notice.

In a statement released early this morning the Club said: “ there has been an increase in coronavirus cases in our community. As a result of this, we too have experienced a number of positive tests over the last couple of days with some of our members. These positive tests have affected other members and has the potential of continuing to spread.

Old timers hockey logo“With this in mind, we discussed this issue, its impact on our members, the community and the Club and went through a variety of options of what we should do. Out of an abundance of caution, we have therefore decided to suspend the season at this time.

“We did not make this decision lightly and did so with the interest of all of our members’ health and safety in mind. The board of directors will be meeting to discuss this decision further and provide you with details regarding refunds; we ask for your patience in the meantime.

If you are concerned in any way about your personal health, please contact your health practitioner. To access Halton Regional Health advice click here

We will continue to monitor the current situation, learn from this experience and consider the club’s further options.

As of immediately however,
• ALL games have been cancelled.
• As mentioned, we will address refund details at a later date.
• Hectors is closed until further notice.
• The ice that we had contracts for is NOT available to players to use tonight and will not be ours going forward.

Return to the Front page

The Nelson Quarry expansion made it to the Council table

News 100 greenBy Staff

October 7th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

This article is one of a series on the process the quarry application will go through..  Part 2 will be on what this will mean to the city and part 3 how the city will choose to tell the story.

Staff had been asked to prepare a report on the land use development application and review process related to the proposed Nelson Quarry expansion, including but not limited to the following:

• summary of the process including decision points;
• anticipated timeline for process steps;
• roles and responsibilities of review agencies;
• a summary of process and outcomes of the previous proposal for expansion; and
• a summary of any new provincial legislation related to aggregate resources.

And they did just that.

Few in Burlington fully understand how much harm was being done to the Escarpment as a result of the quarry. Thus topographical map shows where the quarry is in relationship to the Escarpment. The site is shown in red outline.

The site that was the focus of the first license application is shown in red. The topographical map shows the relationship to the geography of the Escarpment.

On May 14, 2020, the City of Burlington received an application to amend the Official Plan designation of the subject lands to expand the existing quarry operation. Receipt of an application requires staff to assess it for completeness by ensuring all required technical studies and associated Terms of Reference, as identified during pre-consultation, have been submitted for review.

The Planning Act requires a determination of completeness within 30 days of the receipt of an application. However, in accordance with Bill 189, Planning Act timelines were suspended as of March 17, 2020, due to COVID-19. This suspension of timelines ended on June 22,2020, commencing the 30-day requirement. It is noted that that the need for additional studies or reports may arise as the application review progresses.

On July 20, 2020, the application to amend the City of Burlington Official Plan was deemed complete. The application is now formally accepted for review and processing. The application has been circulated to all applicable departments and agencies for review and comment. Public notice has also been issued indicating that the application has been received and deemed complete for processing.

The following studies have been submitted as part of the complete application:

• Agricultural Impact Assessment (prepared by MHBC, dated April 2020);
• Archaeological Assessment (Stages 1, 2 &3) for Lot 17 & 18, Concession 2 NDS, Former Township of Nelson (prepared by Archaeologix Inc., dated August 2003);
• Archaeological Assessment (Stage 4) (prepared by Archaeologix Inc., dated August 2004);
• Stage 2-1 Archaeological Assessment (prepared by Golder, dated March 23, 2020);
• Cultural Heritage Impact Assessment Report (prepared by MHBC, dated April 2020);
• Level 1 and Level 2 Natural Environment Technical Report (prepared by Savanta, dated April 2020);
• Financial Impact Study (prepared by Nelson Aggregates, dated April 2020);
• Air Quality Study (prepared by BCX Environmental Consulting, dated March 2020);
• Planning Justification Report (prepared by MHBC, dated April 2020);
• Progressive and Final Rehabilitation Monitoring Study (prepared by MHBC, dated April 2020);
• Traffic Report (prepared by Paradigm, dated February 2020);
• Level 1 and Level 2 Hydrogeological and Hydrological Impact Assessment Report (prepared by Earthfx, dated April 2020);
• Surface Water Assessment (prepared by Tatham Engineering, dated April 2020);
• Adaptive Management Plan (prepared by Earthfx, Savanta and Tatham Engineering, dated April 23, 2020);
• Noise Impact Assessment (prepared by HGC Engineering, dated April 22, 2020);
• Blasting Impact Analysis (prepared by Explotech, dated March 24, 2020);
• Visual Impact Assessment Report (prepared by MHBC, dated April 2020);
• Site Plan package (Drawing Nos. 1-4, including Existing Features, Operational Plan, Rehabilitation Plan and Cross Sections, prepared by MHBC, dated April 2020);
• Public Consultation Strategy (prepared by Project Advocacy, dated April 22, 2020); and,
• Karst investigations and conceptual model of the bedrock aquifer (prepared by Worthington Groundwater, dated April 25, 2020).

The lands subject to the proposed quarry expansion are located to the west of the existing licensed quarry, which currently contain the Burlington Springs Golf Club, and to the south, on lands which currently contain agricultural and residential uses.

Quarry map

The shaded area is the land Nelson Aggregates wants a license to quarry.

Review Process and Decision Points
Decisions on the proposed expansion to the quarry are regulated by the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act, the Aggregate Resources Act, and the Planning Act. The following approvals are required to permit the quarry expansion:

1. Niagara Escarpment Plan Amendment and Development Permit;

2. Regional Official Plan Amendment to re-designate the proposed expansion land to permit mineral aggregate extraction;

3. City of Burlington Official Plan Amendment to re-designate the proposed expansion land to permit mineral aggregate extraction; and

4. Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry issuance of an Aggregate License for the expansion area.

The applications to the Niagara Escarpment Commission, Region of Halton, City of Burlington, and Ministry of Natural Resources and Forestry (MNRF) have been received at the same time.

Given the overlap in technical review, it is common for such applications to be filed concurrently to ensure a coordinated review among all agencies. To ensure conformity with the most senior level of government, a sequencing of decisions is required.

The Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act stipulates that no approval or permission that relates to development (including aggregate extraction) shall be made within an area of development control unless a Niagara Escarpment Development Permit has been issued. A decision from the Niagara Escarpment Plan comes first in the process of reviewing and permitting mineral aggregate extraction proposals within the Niagara Escarpment Plan Area.

A decision on the proposed amendments to the Regional Official Plan and Burlington Official Plan cannot occur prior to approval of the Niagara Escarpment Plan Amendment and issuance of a Development Permit. Further to that, a decision to amend the Burlington Official Plan cannot occur prior to approval of the proposed amendment to the Region of Halton Official Plan.

It is noted that the MNRF cannot issue an aggregate license without an approval from the Niagara Escarpment Commission.

quarry floor

The current quarry is not yet completely mined out – but Nelson Aggregate knows that the site doesn’t have much time left.

Public input related to the proposal is welcomed and encouraged. Prior to any decisions being made, public consultation will occur, including a statutory public meeting. The timing of the statutory public meeting has not yet been determined and will be scheduled once the technical review of the proposal has progressed further.

Best efforts will be made to align public consultation with the Niagara Escarpment Commission, Region of Halton, and City of Burlington.

A conceptual diagram, prepared by the Region, sets out the parallel review processes.

The proposed application is exceptionally complex, and the technical review has just begun. At this point it is difficult to outline anticipated timelines this early in the review process.

The sequencing of decisions from senior levels of government (i.e. Niagara Escarpment Commission and Region of Halton) will dictate the timing for a decision on the proposed Burlington Official Plan Amendment.

Both the NEC and the MNRF will be releasing requests for comment on the Environmental Registry of Ontario. This is anticipated to occur within Q3 of 2020, and the ability for the public, the City and other agencies to comment will be open for a limited period of time, as determined by the NEC and MNRF.

It is noted that the legislated timelines from the Planning Act with respect to the Region of Halton and City of Burlington Official Plan Amendments are applicable. Given the technical aspects of the application and sequencing of decisions to ensure conformity with senior levels of government, it is not possible to follow the procedures and timing of a typical development review process.
Regular reporting to council with progress updates will assist in providing clarity on timing as the review process unfolds.

Roles and Responsibilities
An inter-agency Joint Agency Review Team (JART) framework will be used to review the application for the proposed quarry expansion. The JART consists of technical staff from the municipalities and agencies (Niagara Escarpment Commission, Region of Halton, Conservation Halton, City of Burlington) reviewing the requested quarry expansion. The team is also supported by consultants with specialist skills. Halton Region is providing the coordinating role and administering JART for these applications.

It is noted that JART itself does not make a recommendation on whether or not the application should be approved. The function of JART is to review the completeness of the application and analyze the proposal on its technical merits. The JART framework ensures a coordinated review by all agencies. The consolidation of effort through JART minimizes duplication among reviewing agencies while ensuring a consistent and thorough agency response across technical disciplines. The JART framework is also intended to support effective communication with the public by providing information, receiving input, and coordinating a response to questions.

At the conclusion of the JART process, a report outlining the results of the joint technical review will be provided to the City to inform a recommendation report to Council.

The City of Burlington reviews the merits of the Official Plan Amendment application on an independent basis, taking into account the JART’s comments along with agency- specific considerations and public comments prior to making a recommendation.

Similarly, the Niagara Escarpment Commission, MNRF and Region of Halton are responsible for their own decisions on their respective applications.

Previous application to expand Nelson Quarry
A previous proposal for expansion to the Nelson Quarry was submitted in 2004. The Niagara Escarpment Commission, Halton Region, Conservation Halton, and the City of Burlington participated in the review of the 2004 proposal.

dfrt

The Jefferson salamander – it should be the city’s mascot.

The applications for the 2004 proposal were referred to the Joint Board (consisting of the Ontario Municipal Board and Environmental Review Tribunal, formed under the authority of the Consolidated Hearings Act). The main issue with the proposal was the protection of Jefferson salamander habitat. In the decision, the Joint Board found that the proposal was not consistent with the purpose and objectives of the Niagara Escarpment Planning and Development Act and the Niagara Escarpment Plan and not consistent with the Provincial Policy Statement and refused the expansion.

It is noted that the current proposal encompasses a reduced portion of the lands from the 2004 proposal on the south side of No. 2 Sideroad and also adds a new/expanded phase of extraction to the west on the site of the Burlington Springs golf course.

New Legislation Related to Aggregate Resources
There have been recent proposals by the Province for new legislation related to aggregate resources through amendments to the Growth Plan and Aggregate Resources Act. They are summarized as follows:

1. Amendment 1 to the Growth Plan recommended, among other things, the removal of “habitat of endangered species and threatened species” as a consideration when permitting a new aggregate operation. Staff report PL-42-20 provided an overview to Council of this and all other proposed amendments to the Growth Plan. It is noted that at the conclusion of the public consultation process for Amendment 1 to the Growth Plan, the Province did not include this specific revision. “Habitat of endangered species and threatened species” remains as a consideration in the Growth Plan for a new aggregate operation.

2. Building on Bill 132, the Better for People, Smarter for Business Act, Ontario Regulation 244/97 made changes to the Aggregate Resources Act. The changes were based on the following themes: Ensure environmental protection, particularly related to water; Increase opportunities for community engagement on applications; Improve access to aggregates; and Reducing duplication and inefficiencies in the review/approval process. The proposed regulatory changes would apply to new pits and quarries, as well as existing pits and quarries. A staff memo in the May 21, 2020 Council Information Package provides a summary of the changes proposed by Ontario Regulation 244/97.

Communications Plan
On September 23, 2019, Council approved the following staff direction –  Direct the City Manager to develop a detailed communications strategy to ensure the public is well briefed on the quarry process by May 2020.

As identified in this report, the Region of Halton will be taking a coordinating role on behalf of JART. Based on this approach, the Region has agreed to also take the lead on developing a communications plan for the Nelson Quarry application process.  Discussions are well under way with City staff and Region staff on developing a plan.

The aim of the communications plan will be to ensure that affected residents and beyond are receiving up to date information on the application’s progress.

Communications will also go out to residents informing them about the opportunities to engage with the approving bodies to provide their feedback on any requests for comments.

Once the communications plan is developed by the Region of Halton, steps will be taken by the City’s Communications Department to amplify the information. These messages will ensure all residents living in Ward 3 are informed of the application’s progress. Residents from across the City will also be able to keep updated on the application by visiting the Nelson Quarry webpage, Burlington.ca/nelsonquarry.

Following Council approval of this report, there will be initial communications from the City about the high-level processes that has been identified in Appendix B.

Rory Nisan microphone

Ward 3 Councillor Rory Nisan; his ward is ground zero on the quarry question.

Financial Matters:
The application fees to the City for an Official Plan Amendment is $82,220.00. All fees to date have been paid by the applicant. The applicant has been made aware, through the pre-consultation process, that peer review costs for technical reports are also required to be paid by the applicant, in accordance with the JART Protocol.

As identified above, a communications plan is being developed in partnership with the Region of Halton.

An application process timetable was prepared by the Region.  The biggest concern for several Councillors was Q3 2022 – that is when the next municipal election is to take place and Councillor Nisan wondered what impact the issue of a quarry license extension might have on his being re-elected.

It is reported that Nisan has received more than 400 letters from people who want the quarry extension to be granted and that the city pay serious attention to the plans for turning the mined out quarry property into a huge public park.

Quarry time line

Return to the Front page

Skating programs returning to select rinks

sportsgold 100x100By Staff

October 7th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

Public Skating, Skate 19+ and the Sticks and Pucks Program will return to Appleby Ice Centre (1201 Appleby Line), Central Arena (519 Drury Ln.) and Mountainside Arena (2205 Mount Forest Dr.).

Programs are viewable online at burlington.ca/fall. Burlington residents can register 25-hours ahead of attending a program while non-residents can register two-hours ahead. Online registration, pre-screening and pre-payment are required. Online screening can be done at burlington.ca/screening.

skates

Programs start at Appleby Ice Centre on Oct. 10 with Public Skate and Skate 19+. Public Skate begins Sunday, Oct. 18 at Mountainside and Central Arenas.

To help reduce the spread of COVID-19, skating programs will meet health guidelines designed in consultation with Halton Region Public Health and in alignment with provincial health guidelines for programs.

Return to the Front page

New Secure Bike Lockers to be installed at Burlington GO

News 100 greenBy Staff

October 7th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Good news for cyclists.

As part of the construction work being done on the elevators at Burlington GO the transit authority is building a new secure bike room at the station to help make cycling to the station even safer.

bike locker

48 secure lockers are expected to be available for rent near the end of the year.

Concrete work scheduled for mid-October 2020 will prepare for the final secure bike room installation in spring 2021.

The new secure bike room will become part of the reserved bike-parking program (gotransit.com/reservedbicycleparking). The secure bike room will have 48 spaces and will be located on the south side of the station building, offering customers one more way to get on the GO.

Metrolinx is committed to getting the upgrades done as quickly and efficiently as possible.

The Gazette will keep you up to date on construction work.

 

Return to the Front page

Council agrees - free December parking will end due to abuse

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

October 6th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

You are going to have to pay to park downtown in December – it has been free for the past seven years.

The Burlington Downtown Business Association (BDBA) asked council to end the program – it is no longer delivering what it was delivering to the downtown merchants.

The past two years – the data collected, and it was extensive, indicated that the opportunity to park free during December was lost due to people who would take up the space for the day.

The abuse brought the program to an end.

Shawna Stolte hand to mouth

Councillor cautioned ending the program this year.

Council’s biggest concern was how to spin this. Councilor Stolte who was the chair of the Standing Committee said she didn’t have a problem with ending the program but didn’t think this should be the time to do it.

People have had a lot taken away from them – they are going to think this is just one more thing. It might backfire on us.

The downtown merchants didn’t seem to care. They wanted the program to end. Their feeling was that if people have to pay there will be more churn; parking spaces will become available when a person has finished their shopping.

Right now – there are people who work downtown and leave their car on the street for the day in December because it is free.

Downtown merchants found that they were experiencing a 25% decrease in sales the past two years. From their perspective it was time to end the program.

It is the city that will have to end the program and Councilors felt that the blame would rest on them.
Councillor Galbraith said that messaging is important – this could be spun the wrong way.

Lisa Kearns taking questions

Councillor Kearns wanted everyone to be vert careful with the way they explained the ending of the program.

Councillor Kearns. Ward 2 where most of that downtown business is located was pained when she heard Councillor Bentivegna talk in terms of something being taken away. “Think in terms”, she said “about what we are giving back.”

“Be aware of your language.”

The concern for the Councillors was that they were going to end up with cow paddies on the soles of their shoes.

Council was asked to discontinue December free parking in all downtown parking facilities effective December 1st, 2020.

Mayor Meed Ward loved the idea when it was put in place. She had little to say other than that parking should be seamless – you shouldn’t have to drive around the block a couple of times to find a place.

Return to the Front page

Burlington GO station elevators to be upgraded - work will take 2 1/2 months

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 6th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Good news and news that is not all that good for people with accessibility issues.

Work on the elevators at the Burlington GO station is needed as they reach the end of their lifespan

The work will begin later this month and is not expected to be completed before the end of the year.

The work is to start October 26, 2020.

This will mean some temporary changes for customers at Burlington GO, especially those who require elevator access.

Customers with accessibility needs are able to use the elevators at both neighbouring GO stations (Appleby and Aldershot), GO Transit will also help make alternative travel arrangements for customers.

The brand new elevators will open to customers early next year.

What is happening at Burlington GO?

GO Burlington elevators

Elevators at Burlington GO getting an upgrade – going to take two and a half months to do the work.

While the elevators upgrades are taking place, both the north and south platforms will be not be accessible for customers who need elevator service.

There will not be an accessible route between the north and south side of the station.

The elevator in the parking structure in the north lot will still be available.

I need an elevator, what should I do?

Customers who need an elevator can request an accessible shuttle service which will transfer them between Burlington GO and Appleby GO or Aldershot GO.

To use the accessibility shuttle, customers can register with GO Transit through the Contact Centre.

The current elevators have been running since 1994, so this modernization work is necessary to ensure reliability for many years to come.

 

Return to the Front page

Lots of height, several different forms of housing - not much in the way of amenities and no one speaking up for the new residents when they arrive

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 6th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

During the virtual  public pre-consultation given by the ADI Development people last week the number of people who were “on the call” was small.

Two that mattered though were the ward Councillor, Kelvin Galbraith and Mayor Marianne Meed Ward.

KG H&S

Kelvin Galbraith: ward 1 Councillor

mmh H&S

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward

They were there because council recently passed some rules for a process that, while voluntary, was necessary if the Planning department was to look at the application.

What was most interesting was how little they had to say.

One of the people who took part asked about retail and was told “there wasn’t going to be any”.  There wasn’t a word of comment from the Councillor.

The ADI people said that base level retail was not considered.  Judy Worsley, Executive Director of the Aldershot BIA said she had met with the ADI people and differed with them on ground level retail adding that “we will be revisiting this”.

3 towers

Rendering of a three story tower configuration.

The ADI people agreed that retail was important and they saw that being built along Waterdown Road which could become a retail spine for the area.

Shawn Coon did say that if retail is found to work “ADI will be interested” adding that retail might not work right away.

One had to wonder at that point what the Councillor was going to do to get some traction behind the need for retail. The hundreds of people who are going to live at Station West will need groceries, a Beer Store, an LCBO at the least.

The word supermarket didn’t get mentioned.

Galbraith, who has been working with a developer nursing their project along in the area, has said the developer will include a coffee shop in his development.  Galbraith is pushing him for a small supermarket that will be a long block away from the centre of Station West.

The matter of fire truck access came up which “needs to be worked out” according to Shane Cooney, an Executive vice president with ADI.

option 1 3 towers

Two towers at 39 stories each, a third at 29 storey. They will border Waterdown Road and Masonry Court.

config 1

Height will range from 39 storeys to 18 storeys

Meed Ward urged people to “continue thinking about what you like: green space, retail and built form.

Traffic was another issue: Cooney said that it is early in the process of doing a traffic impact study – we are not certain how to estimate what the vehicle traffic will be.

ADI defines Station West as a complete community with different housing forms.

There is certainly a lot of housing and in time there are going to be a lot of people in that community – but at this point there didn’t appear to be anyone talking loudly about what was missing.  By the time half of the people have moved in it will be too late.

No library, no community centre, no park.  Not the usual definition of complete community.

Related news story.

ADI gets to tell their story.

 

Return to the Front page

That Free P - it Went Down the Drain

News 100 blueBy Staff

October 6th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON.

 

It was too good to last.

Or was it a case of the perk being abused by too many people – with the downtown merchants who were originally getting a benefit that over time got away from them.

The result is to ask that Council approve a decision to eliminate the free parking that was available for all of the month of December,

Every program or service has to meet at least one of the visions that make up the Vision to Focus Alignment: Focus Area 5 – Delivering customer centric services with a focus on efficiency and technology transformation.

In promoting the Free Parking service someone at city hall got really creative and put together a very funny 35 second video.  Check it out

The downtown business community as the city’s customer, requested a change in the parking service provided.

The Downtown Parking Committee (DPC) was established on November 11, 2002 as a citizen advisory committee of council. The mandate of the DPC is to:

• To provide comments and advice to Council on strategies and policies that affect the development and delivery of parking services in Downtown Burlington

• To consider the community’s interests regarding parking in Downtown Burlington and assist Council in addressing those concerns.

On June 17, 2013, Council approved changes to on-street and municipal facility parking, which approved free parking for all on-street meters and in municipal parking facilities in the Defined Parking Area in downtown Burlington for the month of December.

The intention of this initiative was to improve the parking experience and support economic activity, special events, tourism, and visitor activity in the downtown throughout the month of December.

werf

Get used to this experience in December.

The program was well received by the downtown business community. However, over the past several years, the benefit of the program has been challenged and in December 2019, the DPC was informed that the consensus among the Burlington Downtown Business Association (BDBA) membership was that the program is no longer achieving the original goal, and additionally, that the reduced turnover in parking spaces observed during the Free P period has in fact, become detrimental to business activity.

The DPC agreed on a motion to pause the December Free P! initiative to allow the committee to review options to revise the program. The BDBA circulated a survey to all membership, requesting their feedback and personal experience on the program. The survey consisted of three options:

1. Cancel the program
2. Modify the program
3. Status Quo

As a result of the response, the Burlington Downtown Parking Advisory Committee held a special meeting on March 3, 2020 where the findings of the survey were presented.

While modifications to the program were considered at length, consensus was reached that given the current parking occupancy levels in the downtown, both visitors and businesses would benefit more from the turnover of parking spaces that paid parking would encourage.

Buzz-on-Elizabeth-1024x682

Too many downtown merchants took advantage of the free parking; city staff were taking up so much of the space that the city manager at the time had to put out as memo bringing that practice to a halt.

City of Burlington Transportation Services staff serve in a support capacity to the DPC. Staff consider the DPC and BDBA as the voice of the downtown business community and will support the decision to discontinue the December Free P! parking program.

December Free P is no longer fulfilling its intended purpose and moreover has lowered turnover rates which is considered detrimental to business activity.

The downtown municipal parking service functions with a net zero annual operating budget. Net revenues in excess of expenses are allocated to the Downtown Parking Reserve Fund. Should expenses exceed revenues, funds are withdrawn from the reserve fund to ensure that the downtown parking service continues to be self-sufficient.

FreeP December FNL ParkingWhen the Free P program was implemented the annual cost of permits was charged over 11 months of the year and each permit holder saw an increase in the monthly fee. With the termination of the Free P program, permits will now once again be collected over 12 months thereby reducing the cost of the monthly permit.

Eliminating the Free P program will bring in additional paid parking revenues, which would contribute to the parking reserve fund.

Staff will work with the Communications Department to develop appropriate communication and media releases.
Council’s decision on these matters will be communicated to stakeholders and the community through the Downtown Parking Committee membership, a media release, a marketing campaign and the city’s website

The proposed amendment to By-law 39-2016 is supportive of the DPC’s recommendation to remove December Free P.

That should get it through Committee and on to Council.

Return to the Front page

Art for the entrance to the Joseph Brant Museum - public input is the next step

artsorange 100x100By Staff

October 6th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The City of Burlington is commissioning an Ontario-based Indigenous artist to create a permanent public art piece for the outside of Joseph Brant Museum.

Residents are invited to share their thoughts on two finalists chosen by an independent jury. The two proposed designs can be viewed and commented upon by logging into or joining the City’s engagement platform: GetInvolvedBurlington.ca.

The comments received on GetInolvedBurlington.ca/MuseumPublicArt, along with the technical and detailed design proposals, will inform the jury’s final selection.

The hope is that this project will help to create awareness of the rich Indigenous cultures, peoples and heritage that are at the root of our territory, city and province. The theme of the artwork will focus on Indigenous language. Language connects us to our past, present and future; it is crucial to the development of community and the sharing of knowledge.

The budget for this project is $120,000 CAD (maximum, exclusive of HST). The City of Burlington Public Art Reserve Fund and the Dan Lawrie International Sculpture Collection are jointly funding this project.

The City released A Request for Expressions of Interest in 2019. An independent jury made up of project and community stakeholders and representatives from Mississaugas of the Credit First Nation and Six Nations of the Grand River went through the submissions and choose two finalists to develop preliminary artwork concepts.

Proposal #1
David M. General
Artist Statement
Conversations and Stories is the working title of an outdoor artwork proposed for the City of Burlington. The artwork features two women on their way to see the new Joseph Brant Museum expansion. One woman carries a child – her granddaughter. Conversations and Stories will be installed in the garden near the main entrance.

Brant Museum Artist A

The artwork features two women on their way to see the new Joseph Brant Museum expansion.

The theme for the Joseph Brant Museum Outdoor Art Project is Indigenous Language. Old people at home say “you learn your language on your Mother’s knee”- I believe that. Language gives you a sturdy foothold on lessons to be learned from the Thanksgiving Address, Seven Grandfather Teachings, Great Law of Peace and Medicine Wheel.

Granite and bronze are classic, timeless and durable materials used by ancient civilizations for thousands of years. I used granite mainly for the contrast it provides between highly polished and etched surfaces and its low maintenance and vandalism resistance.

Design begins with rough sketches that guide making maquettes – small 3-D models of figures I create. Sketches are used to guide maquette development. Up to four sets of maquettes will be used to determine best combination surface, text and symbol for the artwork.

Conversations and Stories will stand at the entrance to Joseph Brant Museum for several lifetimes – inviting all to share conversations. Conversations and Stories a modern-day tribute to historic contributions of Indigenous leadership and commitment.

David General

David is Oneida and a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River, near Brantford, Ontario.

Artist Biography
David is Oneida and a member of the Six Nations of the Grand River, near Brantford, Ontario. Prior to his art career, David worked as a Journeyman Bridge and Structural Steel Ironworker, an Elementary School Teacher and an Arts & Culture Officer with the federal government. David’s career as a full-time artist began in 1980 and for 30 years he worked and developed a distinctive style for work, mainly in marble and bronze.

In 1984, David was a founding member and co-chair of the Society of Canadian Artists of Native Ancestry (SCANA), a national native artist organization that successfully lobbied the National Gallery of Canada for greater recognition and representation for First Nations Art. In 1987, the National Gallery bought the first of many works by contemporary native artists.
https://davidgeneral.blogspot.com/

Brant Artist 2

A series of three white cedar story poles at staggered heights.

Proposal #2
Artist: Kris Nahrgang
Artist Statement
My vision for this public art project includes:

• A series of three white cedar story poles at staggered heights.
• Each pole will feature traditional Indigenous symbols, hand carved and painted with vibrant colours in the Woodland School style.
• The existing large stones from the garden will be rearranged to gather around the poles and will represent the Grandfathers, the Spirits of our ancestors, they are our permanent audience.
• The heights of the poles will complement the roof lines of the building and the canopy, with the tallest pole visible from almost 360° around the museum.
• The poles will integrate with the existing landscaping, with minimal disruption, complementing the architectural theme of the front entrance.
• The installation will be a colourful focal point and therefore a natural gathering place.

First Peoples of Ontario created poles distinct from those of the West Coast. The word Totem is derived from the Anishnaabeg word dodem, which means clan. The poles here were Clan Poles and recognized as Story Poles. The proposed Story Poles will acknowledge the three indigenous groups of the past; Mississauga Ojibway, Iroquoian, and the Huron. They will celebrate our differences, and more specifically, our similarities. We are distinct, yet one in our beliefs. As Peoples we did not have written language, but we did communicate with art, symbolism and the spoken word. Through images inspired by Woodland School symbolism and ancient petroglyphs, this public artwork will tell the story of the area with wood and stone, linking the earliest inhabitants, the current residents and the generations to come.

Kris N

R. Kris Nahrgang: His style has a balance of innovative, modern and traditional elements which have led to a growing recognition of his work across Canada and the world.

Artist Biography
R. Kris Nahrgang is a multi-disciplinary artist working in wood, stone and traditional oil mediums. He is also an advocate for the rights of First Nations communities in Ontario and has liaised between Native and non-native groups with respect to archaeology since 2000. Kris Nahrgang is a Status, Mississauga Ojibway Treaty Indian – status held at Curve Lake. His home is located close to the site of the Peterborough Petroglyphs which date back over a thousand years and are recognized as the largest single concentration of rock carvings in Canada.

Kris’ art is a continuation of this spirit and tradition of rock and totem carving. His style has a balance of innovative, modern and traditional elements which have led to a growing recognition of his work across Canada and the world. His work has been noted in art periodicals including Insight, Art Impression and Collectibles, as well as Maclean’s magazine.

Home

Return to the Front page

Schedule for Her Worship Marianne Meed Ward - Mayor of Burlington

Mayor sched Oct 4 a
Mayor sched Oct 5 b

Return to the Front page

The full picture of the ADI Station West development - row housing along with 39 storey structures

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 5th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The first of the Public presentations of a new development under the new rules took place last week.

The new rules require a developer to present their plans to the public and get feedback before taking their project to the Planning Department.

The rules are a little on the complex side and were the subject of some debate, which we cover in a separate article.

The presentation was done by the ADI Development Group and was focused on the second stage of their Station West development. The first stage is well underway – the developers said that there are already people moving in.

Something about that first phase – it is huge. Unless you drive north on Waterdown Road from Plains Road you might not see it. But drive north on Cooke or along Masonry Court and there it is – right in front of you. Cooke is extended right into the site of what amounts to six lengths of row housing.

ADI Masonry Court south boundary

The two structures are joined by a lobby area where the elevators are located. We weren’t able to determine just how many elevators there are.

Station West eastern boundary

This is the eastern boundary with the Aldershot GO station a short walk away. This is what intensification looks like.

ADI row housing

Reasonably attractive, underground parking, basement units with a separate entrance – but it is still row housing with precious little in the way of grass.

The meeting was to talk about phase two which is projected to be four towers (but it could be three) with heights of between 18 and 39 storeys.
What strikes anyone looking at the development is – where is the parkland?

3 towers

Architectural rendering of the the tower option for phase two of Station West.

Where is there any retail?

Those questions didn’t get answered during the hour and a quarter virtual presentation.

More on that in a separate article.

The presentation itself was not all that bad.

There were three people who could be described as public taking part. That was probably because there was very little in the way of public notice.

The Gazette did a short piece two days before – not much time for people to read up on the development and prepare their questions.

The meeting was to get public input on phase two – the first phase is a done deal.

The developer was offering two versions: one with three towers, a second with four towers.

config 1

Four towers with some green space in the middle. Height will run from 18 to 39 storeys.

option 1 3 towers

Three towers with small park space in one corner. One tower at 29 storeys two at 39 storeys.

The three tower option was made up of one 29 storey tower and two 39 storey towers.

The four tower option had buildings ranging from 39 storeys to 18 storeys.

There will be additional opportunities for public input.  The truth is that there isn’t a community in place yet – there is no one to speak for the development and what it offers for those who see it as a place to live.

It is reasonably priced – said to be in the $700,000 range.

There are no homes in the immediate area that will be severely impacted by the high towers.

The development started when Rick Craven was Councillor for ward 1.

The land was reported to have been purchased from the Paletta interests for $14 million.

The ADI group has in the past built quality housing with some very innovative design.

Their Nautique in the downtown core is a smart looking 26 storey structure that has broken ground.

Getting to the point where they were able to start building meant breaking a lot of the rules; put another way – they were able to convince the then OMB that the little bus station on John Street was an MTSA – a transit area and that justified the height they were asking for.

The ADI’s are tough, very in your face developers.  They don’t take prisoners – but they are in the process of creating a community that lacks severely in the way of amenities.

Return to the Front page

HDSB Chair Points Out That Spending Reserve Funds is Robbing Peter to Pay Paul

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 5th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The flow of information from the Halton District School Board and the parents with children in school could be better.
Parents do get information from teachers, especially for those students who are being taught virtually.

What the parents are not getting is the bigger picture – information that sets out what the Board of Education is up against and the challenges they have to overcome.

It is October and we are hearing of what is called “June burnout” on the part of teachers.

They are being asked to do a job that isn’t the cake walk that a lot of parents talk about – they now have to perform under very different circumstances.

A thicker flow of information would be useful.

Where the parents in Halton are being informed is through the Chair of the Board of trustees. Andrea Grebenc, serving her second term as a trustee, now has a much firmer grip on the job and she is speaking out.

Miller in a huddle with Grebenc

Chair Grebenc listening to Director of Education Stuart Miller

Grebenc has an excellent working relationship with her Director of Education Stuart Miller.

There are issues that Miller can’t say all that much about – but the Chair can.

Over the weekend Chair Grebenc said the funding is not what the province is saying publicly. Her Board decided to use $6.1 million out of the reserve funds to cover pandemic related expenses, “that is $6.1 million that was earmarked for other expenses.

“As an example, if we say OK allocate these reserve funds to hire more teaching staff, then we won’t be able to afford to give this school, this school, and that school the air conditioning they have been begging for for years. That’s the trade-off we are looking at. It’s not just money sitting around doing nothing” Grebenc said.

“It’s robbing Peter to pay Paul” she added.

In Halton about 20% of the students are being taught virtually. There is an opportunity for them to move from being virtual to in-class students. The Board at this point has no idea how many will make the switch.

Return to the Front page

Halton Regional Police Arrest Burlington Resident for a Series of Break and Enters

Crime 100By Staff

October 5th, 2020

BURLINGTON,. ON
HRPS crestThe Halton Regional Police Service – 3 District Criminal Investigations Bureau – has concluded a month-long investigation involving a series of break and enters into several businesses within the City Burlington.

Throughout the month of September 2020, several businesses were broken into involving at least two suspects targeting A.T.M.s where an undisclosed sum of money was stolen.

As a result of the investigation, one suspect was identified by investigators. On October 3rd, 2020, a Criminal Code Search Warrant was executed at a residence in the City of Burlington and the accused was arrested.

The investigation led to charges against the following individual;

John BAILEY (48 years old from Burlington)

Break and Enter – Commit; contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada – (7 counts)
• Possession for the Purpose of Trafficking (Fentanyl); contrary to the Controlled Drugs and Substance Act
• Fail to Comply with Probation Order; contrary to the Criminal Code of Canada

The accused was later released on a Form 10 Undertaking.

Investigators are still seeking to identify the second involved party. Anyone with information in regards to this investigation is asked to contact Detective Melissa Parsons of the 3 District Criminal Investigations Bureau at 905-825-4747 ext. 2307

Crime stoppers logoTips can also be submitted anonymously to Crime Stoppers. “See something? Hear something? Know something? Contact Crime Stoppers” at 1-800-222-8477 (TIPS) or through the web at www.haltoncrimestoppers.ca.

Please be reminded that all persons charged are presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

Return to the Front page

Taste of Burlington begins on a wonderful fall day - dine in or take out offered

eventspink 100x100By Michele Bogle

October 5, 2020

BURLINGTON, ONTARIO

 

The Taste of Burlington 2020 launches today with 35 of your favourite participating restaurants offering their best under circumstances that are far from normal.

An event that started in 2008  with just 12 restaurants taking part has steadily grown.

The event starts Monday October 5th and runs through to the 25th.

This fall, each participating restaurant is again offering mouth-watering pre-fixe menus with appeal for anyone’s palate.

Taste of Burlington has made ordering easier, with extra perks.

Sign up for the ‘free’ Taste of Burlington Passport to view menus on-line. The more times you dine out, using the app, the more chance you have of winning the weekly gift card give-away, or the grand prize of $500 to a restaurant of choice.

Some participating restaurants have special offers for returning. Tallying of the contest used to be by ballot-box, but can now be done digitally.

Kelly Harris, Marketing Specialist with Tourism Burlington and Co-ordinator of Taste of Burlington writes, “Quite excited about this as especially with the pandemic, the ballots don’t have to touch so many hands.”

But wait!, there’s more. If you choose to dine in at any of the participating restaurants, the app allows you to order from the pre-fixe menu without touching anything but your own device.

Dining out at a new or favourite restaurant, has been made easier, safer and more economical with the Taste of Burlington Passport App.

As a cost-saving measure to the restaurateurs, if dining out, there is only pickup available. No delivery. The app also allows you to choose the patio, takeout, or dine in. As well it can be used to make reservations, required for this dining event.

Within this link to the list of participating restaurants, you’ll find the quick and easy application for the passport, if you don’t already have it.

Check each restaurant’s website for dates and times available. Not all locations have their own parking, so leave enough time to find city parking, if dining in.

When dining in, as a patron you can expect the Public Health Guidelines as set out by Halton Region to be rigorously observed.

As an on-going series, I’ll be reviewing some of the participating restaurants to assess, not only the value and quality of the pre-fixe menus offered, but of the safety measures exercised by those restaurateurs.

Michele BogleMichele Bogle is a Burlington resident who writes for the Gazette on community issues. Ms Bogle has taken part in the Food Network for the second year in a row to audition for the ‘Great Chocolate Showdown’ 2020 and 2021. She made it to the second stage of auditions for ‘Wall of Chefs’ 2019 and finished top 1% of auditions last year for ‘The Great Canadian Baking Show’.

Return to the Front page

Citizen group disagrees with Council decision.

October 4th, 2020
Last week Council endorsed the recommendations from the Planning department on the Scoped Review of the Downtown Core portion of the adopted but not approved Official Plan.
The endorsement goes to Council this week and, if approved, will be come part of the Official Plan that is currently in the process of being revised. It will be sent to the Regional government where it has to be approved.
Citizens created an organization they called We Love Burlington, (WLB).  That group released the following statement related to an article the Gazette wrote on the decision of Council to endorse what the planners had brought forward.
The WLB statement should be part of the public record.
  Taking a closer look graphic
Last December and January, WLB delegated before City Council opposing the direction proposed in the returned Official Plan for downtown development and the public waterfront. We were joined in our opposition by our colleague, Gary Scobie, long time civic activist and critic. Today we post a submission by two members of WLB and Gary on the virtually unchanged but ‘final’ direction for downtown and the waterfront. We continue to advocate for local voice and respectfully request that it be heard. If you agree, contact your Councillor and make your voice count. We strongly suggest looking carefully at the morass of documents and not simply the consultant’s Guidelines nor the summaries provided by the City or council members.
September 21, 2020
The following is the joint submission of Lynn Crosby and Blair Smith, two founding members of WeLoveBurlington, and Gary Scobie, long-time civic activist and advocate. We share a common passion for the City of Burlington and a common purpose in protecting its downtown and waterfront from inappropriate development and excessive intensification. We also have a compelling interest in preserving the integrity of local government – that level of governance closest to the citizen and most sensitive to local needs and voice. Indeed, WLB actually was created by the need to counter the provincial direction for amalgamation at the regional government level. The campaign, waged in concert by a number of ad hoc organizations, was ultimately successful and the threat of amalgamation in Halton removed.
Ironically, the government that WLB fought to preserve because of its perceived sympathy to the people’s will, then turned a virtual deaf ear to many of those citizens when it developed its revised plans for Burlington’s downtown. It would appear that proximity to the people is no guarantee of either the ability to hear their voice or follow their wishes.
On December 5th, 2019 and January 12th, 2020, we delegated before Council. On those occasions we questioned the timing and basic process of the course that brought forward the 243-page Integrated Control By-Law Land Use report and the highly interdependent 319-page Preliminary Preferred Concept Report. We challenged the timing, the conclusions and the basic sequencing of events. At that time, we urged Council to address the relocation of the Urban Growth Centre (UGC) and the mis-designation of the John Street bus station and the downtown as a Major Transit Station Area (MTSA). We argued that these actions must be a priority before any acceptable redesign of the downtown was possible. We asked for ‘no more tall buildings’. And we were not heard. Indeed, with our final delegations there was not one question posed. We raised inconvenient truths and there was no will to exchange ideas, no appetite to debate. We were politely but conclusively dismissed. We determined at that time that further delegation was pointless and the course for downtown irrevocably charted.
Today, however, we are making another statement in response to the latest documents, the Placemaking and Urban Design Guidelines and the Downtown Burlington Fiscal Impact Analysis and the latest, and apparently final, version of Report PL-16-20, Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown Recommended Modifications to the OP. We do this to bring orderly closure to our advocacy and, once again, echo the voice of Burlington citizens who deserve to be but have not been heard. Sadly, the situation remains almost exactly the same as it was nine months ago – all this time spent tinkering with the documents, but not substantially changing the position or the “vision.”
On page 8 of the Guidelines, for example, the two designations that enable both the Province and the development community to force high intensity massing of people and/or jobs in Burlington’s downtown remain unchanged and in force. We refer, of course, to the Urban Growth Centre (UGC) and the Major Transit Station Area (MTSA). COB recently announced that Council voted unanimously on August 24, 2020 to request removal of these designations, yet they remain the key component of the downtown OP, the Guidelines, all Schedules and the Fiscal Impact Analysis. Coupled with this is the fact that LPAT, the ‘new’ dispute forum, is a high-rise developer’s dream tribunal where height and massing in designated growth areas are not just supported but are actively encouraged.
The Urban Growth Centre (UGC) designation was first applied to our Downtown through the Places to Grow provincial legislation in 2005 and ratified by Burlington Council in fall 2006, just weeks before the City Election. It demanded a minimum 200 people/jobs per hectare over the area bounded by the Growth Centre and remains in place today.
The Major Transit Station Area designation arrived much later in the second decade of this century through the provincial agency, Metrolinx, based on the unsubstantiated claim that our Downtown Bus Terminal qualified as a Mobility Hub. The MTSA covers roughly the same area as the UGC and requires the same intensification minimums. Both designations support high intensity massing of people/jobs (and buildings) in the Downtown area and reinforce each other as provincial intensification tools. Moreover, both designations share three critical aspects detrimental to the popular “vision” of what constitutes “good planning” for Burlington’s downtown:

The intensification applies over an area, not a building.

There is no maximum stated. Only a minimum is demanded, and municipalities are “encouraged” to go above the minimum.

There is no mention in the legislation of maximum building height – the sky is quite literally the limit.

So, the two most damaging factors remain unchanged and will be ‘in force’ and operative for the foreseeable future – at minimum, until the Regional Official Plan is revised and approved. This factor alone undermines the comforting assurances and lofty principles of the Guidelines. Indeed, the latter are almost a misdirection, intended to appease a skeptical and fatigued citizenry; false guarantees that intensification can be controlled and made amenable to the public will. But, as Guidelines, they exist simply to articulate what “should be” not what “must be” and they can be contravened by any number of higher policies and direction statements. For example, the “Core Commitment: Downtown Vision and Action Plan” (as amended) goes beyond and takes precedence over the “Placemaking and Urban Design Guidelines”.
In essence, the Guidelines are unenforceable, part of an array of reports and documentation that requires a very informed and patient reader to do all the necessary cross-referencing to determine the complete context. As with the past process of last December and January, the documents are too numerous, too dense, too intricate and too complex. They are not intended to easily inform.
Truly, the devil can be in the details. There are instances in which the Guidelines don’t match or conform to the main OP report. One of the best examples is Village Square. The Guidelines talk about 4 storeys “abutting Martha Street” but Village Square, as popularly known, does not extend to Martha Street.
The Guidelines state:
“1. The maximum height of developments abutting Martha Street shall be 4 storeys and/or shall provide a built form transition to Martha Street and north of Pine Street to maintain the existing low-rise character.”
2. Retail frontages should be designed to complement and reinforce the unique human scaled and historic character of the Village Square Precinct.
3. Retail provided at-grade along Pine Street will act as a transaction to the Village Square development and emphasize an intimate relationship with the public realm by providing a minimum setback of 4 metres from the curb.
4. Development should maintain and enhance views of the Village Square.”
The language is intended to give the impression that the low-rise nature of the area is being protected and preserved. However, when the map (notably, only included in the revised schedules and omitted from the Guidelines) is referenced, it is clear that the north portion of Village Square allows 11 storeys. Moreover, both the Report and the Guidelines are silent on the treatment of the Square’s interior. At best this is misleading; at worst, a deliberate omission. And this is characteristic of the Guidelines as a whole. They contain a treasure trove of vague, ambiguous, qualitative language that provides a sense of affirmation but does not allow for measurement or objective validation.
The Guidelines perpetuate a number of known problems and deficiencies already cited with the planning process and the downtown modifications made to the Official Plan. Most glaring, perhaps, is the fact that the Old Lakeshore Road precinct continues to be ignored. Why is this most critical of precincts, the gateway to the downtown, continually out of scope?
Why are the serious issues, constraints and challenges posed not openly addressed? Why reference it as one of the 10 precincts and note that the downtown is “on a beautiful waterfront setting”, then completely ignore what is required to protect the waterfront, enhance its accessibility to the public and maintain the existing views? Indeed, Burlington has had a very uneven record over the last 20 years in terms of preserving and protecting the natural asset of the waterfront. It sold valuable waterfront property to private owners, failed to extend the waterfront trail and allowed development interests to prevail over those of public access. These Guidelines and this Official Plan do little to reverse the mistakes of the past. World class cities provide strict and enforceable measures to ensure that their waterfronts are valued as irreplaceable jewels and true public assets. Burlington, by contrast, posits a “feel good” set of principles (pp 44/45) factored around the discretionary preservation of “views” and “access”.
The same principles with the same poor expectation of effective implementation are used to preserve sight lines to landmark buildings such as City Hall, Knox Presbyterian Church and Village Square. One can reasonably argue that the view of City Hall will be obstructed by the Twin Towers approved for the northeast and southeast corners of Brant and James. Knox is located in the Downtown East Precinct that allows tall buildings and is vulnerable to demolition. Village Square presents a series of already identified issues. In fact, we take serious issue with the whole Downtown East Precinct in which the “precedent” of existing tall buildings is used to justify an ongoing ‘tall building’ development pattern. Why is the “precedent” not anchored in the many one or two storey houses in the area? How does the allowance for 17 storeys on Elizabeth Street and 17 at the Lions Club Park conform to the existing adjacent neighbourhoods? How does it conform to that which the people have been asking and how is it feasible that that small area around tiny Martha Street and Lakeshore/James could possibly accommodate this many tall buildings and additional congestion? Where is the requirement that Carriage Gate finally, after more than a decade, build their promised parking garage and medical centre at the site of their 17-storey condo building atop a three storey “podium” (the much-touted retail portion on ground level still completely vacant) located in the East Precinct? Why is the consultant/staff recommending 22 storeys at the Carriage Gate property at Pearl and Lakeshore, beside the uniformly unwanted ADI property next door?
There is almost a complete lack of green space and amenities. The map in Schedule 3, Appendix D shows three green circles denoting “public parks” (viz. Ghent/Brant, No Frills parking lot and Martha near New Street). They are small, located in insignificant areas and appear as afterthoughts – not integral components of the plan. The City claims to want to create complete communities with all of the amenities, but this worthy goal appears to have been abandoned in the downtown. Indeed, there is no section in the Guidelines dealing with green spaces and parks. Instead of needed amenities, community hubs and actual parkland, we are presented with the concept of POPS (Privately Owned Publicly Accessible Spaces) as leisure and recreational areas for the thousands of people who will populate the new buildings. The POPS were featured in the Fall 2019/Winter 2020 presentations of the preferred concepts for downtown. They were not critically acclaimed then and deserve no better treatment now. In fact, little has changed with either the concepts or the consultant’s treatment of the design for downtown. So, for example, where is the recognition that the pandemic has dramatically changed our reality? In the Fiscal Impact Analysis:
Table 3-1 summarizes the residential growth projections for Downtown Burlington to 2031. It is anticipated that the within Downtown Burlington, the City’s population will grow by 2,787 population over the 2020-2031 forecast period. The population growth will be facilitated by the development of 1,720 additional high-density residential dwelling units. Consistent with the assumptions of the 2016 FIS, it is assumed that 75% of high-density residential development will be in the form of condominium development, with the remaining 25% comprising apartment developments.”
Remarkably, there is no updated view of the changes that COVID has made to our lives and the nature of our future living. Today, and for the foreseeable future, there is far less desire for condominium living and cloistered spaces. People want to distance and separate, want more open spaces and houses with traditional features and backyards. Accordingly, there should be fewer allowances for tall buildings and much better-defined planning for open spaces. Why is the consultant’s vision unchanged?
This speaks to our final major issue – the implicit cynicism of the consultation process and the lack of meaningful public engagement. Much has been made by the City and Council in ward newsletters and social media posts of the extensive outreach that has been undertaken. Citizens have been thanked for their time and effort reviewing an endless array of documents, helping to make the Official Plan and its policies a better, more inclusive work. However, nothing has materially changed. The preferred concepts, the vision and principles, the Official Plan itself with its myriad ancillary reports and the strategic documents ‘ad infinitum’ have not been varied or amended. The direction has not been moderated by either public comment and feedback or influenced by a differing public perception. The development scenario was essentially set during last Summer and Fall, when SGL Consulting was engaged under a directed tender to validate staff-defined outcomes. The necessary substantiating reports and studies were then concluded with predictable findings and the path forward unaltered from that framed and established at the very beginning.
Neither Council nor Planning staff should believe that a lack of new comments opposing much of these final documents means that the public now finds them acceptable. In the midst of a pandemic and at the end of a very long, quite protracted and overly tiresome process with too many documents, too many cross-references and too many versions, people are fatigued with the need for repetition; for saying repeatedly what they want and never being heard. We know that the council members are there to speak up on our behalf, convey our long-standing and unchanged positions, and to direct staff as they see fit. This is what the public expects and is counting on.
In summary, we’ve been here before – several times actually and nothing substantive has changed. It’s not that we expect that Council is under any obligation to passively comply simply because we attended and delegated. However, we did expect to be respected and to be heard. We represent a popular voice to which you have turned a deaf ear; worse, to which you have claimed an avid attention, then done nothing. We respectfully request that you provide for substantive amendments to the Official Plan, addressing the deficiencies noted in this submission and reflecting what the people of Burlington want for their downtown.
We understand that Council has worked with staff on modifications to produce a revised Official Plan for endorsement but we believe that it is seriously flawed. It leaves the waterfront vulnerable to development and permits a downtown in which tall buildings will dominate, with no real green space or public amenities. As we have said from the beginning, there is only one waterfront and one downtown – once gone there will be no bringing anything back and we urge the current Council, elected with such high popular expectation two years ago, to do everything needed to clearly ensure their permanent protection. Your legacy depends on it.

 

Return to the Front page

Premier Doug Ford: A Man Without a Plan

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

October 3rd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Haven’t we seen this movie before? The eagerness to open up the economy before the virus was properly contained has returned us to where we were back half a year ago. In fact worse. We have already exceeded the record of infections we saw last spring. Does that mean the long months of lock down were all in vain?

Who is running this ship anyway ? Dare I say… this was, of course, entirely predictable. And now we’re expected to top 1000 cases in a of couple weeks. But we really have no idea, since the virus is exponential and there are lags between exposure and symptoms… and well… who knows?

body bag +

Infections have reached 1000 a day in Quebec. Deaths have also increased.

Quebec has already beat us to the 1000 cases a day, by the way. Yet it was barely three months ago that Premier Legault was so convinced he’d beat the virus to the ground that he opened up provincial restaurants and bars and invited customers in – Bon Appétit. And now he has had to shut them all down.

Earlier this week on the very day that Ontario hit its highest level of infections ever, 700 cases, casinos in the province were allowed to reopen. And still the Premier thinks he is smarter than the virus – that he can outmaneuver it, surgically control it, micro-mange and fine tune how we live our lives to constrain it – rather than doing what his neighbouring province has had to do.

We are all waiting for a vaccine to save us – something we expect to have by early next year. So one has to ask – why not sit tight and wait? Oh sure we need money to live by – but the feds have the printing presses primed – and most of us are doing better than ever if we consider the amazing growth we’ve seen in personal savings.

COVID is the viral disease making all this fuss, but this is also an economic and social crisis of historical importance.

Provincial gross domestic product (GDP) suffered its greatest loss ever. This is entirely attributable to measures we’ve taken to flatten the curve (of infections). And were it not for the federal government doling out cash we’d be in big trouble. Ontario lost over a million jobs during the June to August period.

restaurant indoor

Restaurants are taking the biggest hit – and there doesn’t appear to b a solution for them in the near term.

While just about every sector had been affected by the epidemic, entertainment, travel and hospitality were the hardest hit. These are the business activities where viral spread is hardest to control. Hospitality and tourism make up about 4% of provincial GDP generating over $22 billion in sales in a normal year. Together with restaurants there are over 11,000 establishments across the province.

Ford - dumb thoughtful

If the virus gets even worse, the Premier knows he’ll have no choice but to lock them down again.

And that is the dilemma facing the Premier. If the virus gets even worse, he knows he’ll have no choice but to lock them down again – when hospitals get overloaded and more seniors start dying he won’t be able to pretend that his surgical blade can do the impossible. He’s already getting flack from health experts demanding more lockdown and that he fire his chief medical officer.

It’s not easy being a man without a plan. And it’s clear the Premier is making it up as he goes along. Every new daily briefing brings some new direction, which may conflict with the one from the previous day. And while he can predict we’ll have a thousand new cases a day by mid-October, he can’t tell you what we’ll be doing about it.

And the mixed messaging is not only causing confusion but also social unrest. There have already been some protests over masking. And we see normal law abiding folks, who mostly observed the earlier restrictions on public and private gatherings choosing to ignore them now. Indeed when Ford himself ignores his own rules as he has done on occasion – why not? He is supposed to set an example, after all.

public interest - enough

The public reaches a point where they don’t want to co-operate.

Civil rights organizations have also taken up the question of the constitutionality of lockdowns, restrictions and bubbles – though the courts so far have weighed on the side of public interest over individual rights. But if protesters can demonstrate that government is not doing a good job at protecting them anyway – that may all change.

And there is a lot of evidence. Accountability for failure to protect the lives of long term care residents, by actions before and after the lockdowns is still on the back burner. Failure to prepare for the safe re-opening of schools. The inconsistency of restrictions. Inability to successfully execute a test and trace program. And of course the decision to re-open the economy when the Premier anticipated increased case loads as a result.

But the premier has to weigh the economic benefits of allowing these sectors to remain open against the potential economic consequences of another major lock down. He has to worry about employment and GDP and the provincial budget deficit which is forecast to hit some $40 billion, but likely will be much higher.

And of course there is scheduled to be a provincial election at the beginning of June 2022.  After all, for a man claiming to be a deficit killer and opposed to tax increases and raising more debt, he is faced with tumbling provincial revenues and hugely increased provincial expenditures. And then there is the matter of the health of the all the people.

vaccine - waiting

The vaccine may not turn out to be the solution – despite the amount being spent.

As we wait for a solution to the epidemic, either a viable vaccine or for the virus to miraculously die off on its own, as SARS did, the Premier has to balance the health and lives of Ontario folks against the economic costs of coping with the economic fallout from the virus.

So the question is whether his surgical talents will successfully constrain the contagion – or whether we are headed for a deja vu.

Rivers in maskRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial matters as well as environmental issues. He has degrees in economics and was the founder of the Sustainability Advisory Committee in Burlington. Rivers was a candidate for provincial office in Burlington where he ran against Cam Jackson in 1995, the year Mike Harris and the Common Sense Revolution swept the province.

 

Background links:

Mixed Messages –    Ontario Peaks –    Testing

Australia vs Sweden –   Long Term Care –  

More Long Term Care –   Savings Rate –    Ontario Job Loss –   

Confusion –    Ontario Deficit

Return to the Front page