There are limits to what a Mayor is supposed to do internationally; three trips abroad is not what she was elected to do.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 23rd, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

How many times does the Mayor have to travel abroad to represent the city?

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward is the Mayor of a mid-sized city.

She is not yet the Premier of the province nor is she representing Burlington at a federal level.

MMW-with-Rohmer-in-France-June-2019

Burlington Mayor Marianne Meed Ward with Richard Rohmer, Honorary Lieutenant General Richard Heath Rohmer OC CMM OOnt DFC CD QC), during the D-Day celebrations.

The trip to Normandy to celebrate the D-Day landings had merit.

Commisso-and-Mayor-in-Japan

Burlington’s Mayor leading a parade in Itabashi Japan.

The trip to Japan to celebrate the xx year relationship with the city of Itabashi was a little excessive; the trip to Apeldoorn in May is one of those “nice to have’s” the Mayor complained about when she was a citizen banging on the doors of the council chamber to be let in.

Being a Mayor with provincial pretensions calls for an ability to judge the difference between personal ambitions and the needs of the city you lead.

The plans for a side trip to France while she is in Holland can’t be justified no matter how hard you try.

Our Mayor is not listening to the genuine concerns of a lot of people.

She could be in the process of losing the connection she has to her base.

In October of 2018 Marianne Meed Ward was the best choice of what was available for the job of Mayor – her “tribe” expects her to grow into the job.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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How many countries should Burlington twin with?

 SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 19th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Burlington has twinned itself with two cities: Itabashi in Japan and Appeldoorn in the Netherlands.

The relationship with each city is robust with delegations from Burlington going to Holland and Japan and delegations from those countries visiting Canada.

It is a satisfying relationship for everyone and the cost is minimal.

Storming the beach on D day

Canadian soldiers storming the beach of Normandy on D-Day

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward spent the 75th Anniversary of D-Day on Juno Beach in France. Prior to her leaving for the trip she learned about the very significant role Burlington plays in Courseulles-sur-Mer. The Juno Beach Centre was designed by an architect from Burlington and paid for with funds raised in Burlington.

The Mayor of  Courseulles-sur-Mer is reported to have asked Mayor Meed Ward if they could twin with Burlington. It sounded like a nice idea with much merit. Far too many Canadian men lost their lives storming the beaches of France on D-Day. It was the event that turned the tide of WWII. Twinning with Courseulles-sur-Mer  would be very fitting.

It raises the question, however, of just how many countries does Burlington want to twin with. There has to be a limit somewhere.

The Mundialization Committee is working through a number of ideas including the creation of a second category which would be a “friendship” relationship that would involve a lot less interaction and probably not include visits to France. (Link to that report below.)

The Mundialization Committee has not made any decisions; the Mayor is going to be in Holland for the 75th Anniversary of the end of the second world war and has plans to make a side trip to France to follow up on the idea.

I have a very serious concern over the creation of a “friendship” relationship with Courseulles-sur-Mer while we maintain a full blown boisterous relation with a city in Japan.

Canadians died on the beaches of France defending democracy.

Canadians died in the Pacific in a war we fought to bring an end to; a nation that attacked Pearl Harbour and wanted to conquer  America.

Perhaps the status of Itabashi could be downgraded to one of “friendship” and Courseulles-sur-Mer brought in as a twin.

It might be awkward from a diplomatic point of view but to put that small sea-side community whose beaches our men died on to defend democracy as a “friend” while Itabashi has a full blown twinning  relationship is just not right.

Juno Beach Centre

Juno Beach Centre at Courseulles-sur-Mer, a beach where many Canadian men died during the D-Day landings.

Canadian troops liberated Apeldoorn in World War Two; an event that is celebrated by both countries every November 11th.

Japan and Germany have come along way from being what they were in the 1940’s but we don’t celebrate the wars they started.

Related news story:

Council to decide how many locations around the world the city will twin with.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

 

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Changes planned for the Advisory Committees? Something appears to be in the works.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

January 17th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

A reader, who is more comfortable remaining anonymous, but who we know to be reliable, wrote to comment that “the City went all big on Public Engagement and held Citizen Action Labs – public sessions to consider Citizens Advisory Committees” (my understanding is that this ‘issue’ has been in discussion since 1997).

“A list of many of the suggestions/recommendations was sent around to participants (and is available on the getinvolved site – click on Latest News). Then a staff report was to be presented at the Nov. 4 COW meeting – but pulled, literally at the last moment.

“Explanation, of sorts, can be found

HERITAGE B Oct 16-12 A

The Heritage Advisory Committee is exceptionally successful. Former city councils gave then a lot of responsibility and they didn’t fail to deliver. There are other Advisory committees that are close to failures.

“Since then, some kind of ‘review team’ was struck to ??? Jim Young and Roland Tanner are two names that I can identify as being invited.

“I caught wind of a Q & A (not my words) to be held at City Hall on the evening of Jan. 23, with some members of existing Advisory Committee members before the staff report gets sent to Council.

“I don’t think there’s anything nefarious going on but it is frustrating when a citizen takes time out to participate and then is kept in the dark until the ‘results’ are presented as a fait d’acompli almost a year later.”

Anything to it?  The report was pulled very suddenly last November.

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Crosby - Smith delegation: This is the final chance any of us have to protect our downtown and waterfront. We ask that you don’t let us down.

opinionred 100x100Lynn Crosby and Blair Smith

January 14th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

“This is the “as written” rather than the “as delivered” version of WeLoveBurlington’s delegation.  There are some inaccuracies in the “as written” version, a result of late changes in the staff/consultant presentations that were presented just before the delegations, to which the delegates had no opportunity to respond and which caused last minute ‘on the fly’ changes for us and others.   As such, it is a resounding QED (Quid est demonstratum = which is proven)  for WLB’s principal complaint of a flawed and disrespectful public engagement process”.

Good morning Chair, Councillors, Your Worship.

I am Lynn Crosby and with me is my colleague, Blair Smith. As you know, we represent the advocacy group, WeLoveBurlington.

We stand before you, as we did on December 5th, to ensure that citizens are heard. We are honouring a commitment – both to ourselves and to the other advocates for citizen empowerment and strong local voice. We question the timing and basic process of the course that brings the 243-page Integrated Control By-Law Land Use report before you for approval today – just 14 working days after it was first released on the Friday before the Christmas holidays. Also the 319-page Preliminary Preferred Concept Report to be presented to Council two days from now, and released only 3 business days ago. The reports are highly interdependent and the almost concurrent timing of both is very unfortunate. Is this truly enough time for even an engaged and well-informed citizenry to properly review, assess and comment? We believe not.

Lynn and Blair 3

Lynn Crosby watching council while her delegation partner reads.

The ICBL Report is exceedingly long and dense. A great deal of the necessary detail and the associated import is carried by and buried within the appendices; the degree of cross-reference and referral needed does not produce ease of understanding nor transparency. Nor does the staff report provide a clear and readily understandable summary of what it all means.

There has been no engagement exercise or review of the ICBL Land Use policies – no opportunity for the public to examine and respond. Why hasn’t the public been engaged on this as they were on the concepts? Why hasn’t this crucial meeting been actively promoted? Isn’t the Statutory Public Meeting the opportunity in the planning process to address the issues, allow the public to debate and obtain public input? Why is this meeting focused on approval rather than information collection and exchange?
This report accepts the same limiting factors and planning constraints identified in our earlier delegation:

· The urban growth centre designation for downtown
· The anchor mobility hub designation for the DT and
· The major transit station area designation for the current John St. bus station

Although important qualifications are made, no consideration has been given to our earlier recommendation – to shift the focus and effort to first eliminating these constraints, or attempting to, before establishing the amendments to the Official Plan.

Where is the “strategy” for approaching the Region or Province to relocate the Urban Growth Centre? Why is that not before us today? We believe that that is the first order of business and last month we were told by Ms. MacDonald that it would be coming. We are in a good position to ask for the Province’s assistance in this regard. As noted in the staff report (p.4), “Local Official Plans address much more specific planning issues within a city and provide greater detail and clarity on how a broad provincial direction is addressed at a local level.” In other words, the province is predisposed to leave issues of detail, such as the location of the UGC, to local decisioning.

jane-mckenna-joe-dogs

MPP Jane McKenna

One year ago, our MPP Jane McKenna stated publicly in the Burlington Post, and again in her newsletter, that she often hears this request from residents and that she approached the Ministry of Municipal Affairs and Housing. She reported at length and concluded that …

“The City of Burlington council is free to remove these mobility hub designations from the local official plan. If city council voted to change the boundaries of the downtown Burlington urban growth centre this could be accomplished by Halton Region as part of the next official plan review. This must take place prior to July 1, 2022. Burlington could then, in turn, amend its official plan to reflect the new boundaries.”

We would like to openly acknowledge Ms. McKenna’s effort. WLB has not always been a cheerleader for our local MPP but here she did what she was elected to do and she did it when it could have made a difference. The citizens of Burlington expected and still expect that these conversations would have been undertaken by the City and that we would be well on our way to having the designations removed and the UGC moved. That this much time has elapsed without any such attempts is disappointing. We don’t accept that it’s now too late since you don’t want to extend the ICBL because you fear developer appeals if you do.

Respectfully, this is a situation created by you; we ask you to now fix it. If developers appeal, let them. In the meantime, you have the time needed to get the vital missing components done and in the proper order. As we have stated and continue to state, you only have one chance to protect the downtown and the waterfront and that chance is now.

The revised Land Use policies being recommended for adoption this morning, as Official Plan Amendment 119, are conveyed as appendices D and E. If accepted, we believe that OPA 119 will lock us into a downtown over-intensification scenario. There are technical planning considerations and policy issues that speak against the direction proposed for the downtown. They include the absence of all the planning components for which the Adopted OP was originally considered to be “non-compliant” by the Region, including the lack of a Transportation Plan or Mobility Hub Plan. Why do these gaps still exist? Why does the ICBL Land Use Study not address them?

John Street bus terminal

There was a time when Transit staff suggested the bus terminal be torn down – now the building is being described as vital if transit is to grow or the defining of the building as Major Transit Station Area as a major mistake.

How can the downtown be designated as an MTSA when it is recognized that the anchor DT bus terminal currently does not function as a major bus depot and is unlikely to do so barring substantial and unplanned future improvements?

How can the downtown be designated as an MTSA when it is acknowledged that it “is not located on a priority transit corridor nor is it supported by higher order transit nor by frequent transit within a dedicated ROW”?

Shouldn’t the land use implications of designating the downtown as an MTSA be identified and isn’t this designation, since MTSAs are focal points for higher intensity and mixed-use transit supportive development … likely to result in over-development?
Can we be confident that with these amendments, but leaving the mis-designations and the UGC as is, that building heights can be effectively limited and those limits defended? We’re looking to the downtown of the future but also to developments that are already in process, such as those proposed for Lakeshore and Pearl or James and Martha? This question is critical to the entire exercise.

Significant details and implications are carried by the maps and are not immediately transparent. Map 3 should be amended to remove the Major Transit Station “dot” reference since it is easily missed and accepts the mis-designation of the John Street bus terminal as an MTSA.

Maps 1 and 2 amend the existing OP with what the Dillon report refers to as the “revised” DT Urban Growth Centre boundaries. Set aside the question of whether it should still be located in the DT at all, were the UGC boundaries revised and what were the revisions? On what basis and why was this not presented to the public and Council first?

City council photo Xmas

Weeks after being sworn in the new Council posed for a Christmas photo – there was nothing festive about the questions asked by delegations.

We would like to echo something raised this morning but that has been frequently voiced at Statutory Meetings, the Action Labs and Ward Meetings. All of you ran, implicitly or explicitly, on a platform that became a populist groundswell that defeated the incumbent Mayor, two sitting members of Council and caused two more to seek alternative career or life opportunities. When not a fully expressed component of your own platforms, you nevertheless benefited from the anti-intensification message that resonated with exceptional force. The citizens of Burlington now expect you to honour this mandate. At the very least, please defer approval of the recommendations before you today until a much more complete engagement process with Burlington citizens has been conducted.

Why are we rushing as staff led Council to rush in 2018? As we noted previously, and as confirmed by the Region, there is no clock ticking. We urge you to take the time to address all the building blocks of a new Official Plan. Indeed, if the recommendations of the ICBL Report are approved today, then Thursday’s Preferred Concept meeting becomes ‘pro forma’ and meaningless. Which process is being respected today – a sense of false urgency to the Region – or that which provides for meaningful citizen engagement?

Stolte - the chair

Ward 4 Councillor Shawna Stolte chaired the Standing Committee today. She had to tell two very strong delegations that there were no questions for them. It appeared she did so reluctantly.

We do not believe that what is before you today hears either the voice of the people or the direction of the Council they thought they elected. We recognized in our previous delegation that many of the errors made concerning the future of Burlington’s downtown go far back and are not yours. But that excuse stops today. The direction going forward is clearly yours and yours alone. It will be your lasting and irrevocable legacy. We ask you to consider your legacy carefully, step up and defer the decisions being asked of you this morning.

We acknowledge and appreciate the work of staff in creating the Preliminary Concept Report to be presented on Thursday. However, what that concept allows or does not allow for the downtown doesn’t matter if it won’t be enforceable because you approved this report today with the mis-designations and UGC location unchanged. Thursday’s report would then be irrelevant and we would see little point in debating its merits. We delegated today because this is the crucial moment. This is the final chance any of us have to protect our downtown and waterfront. We ask that you don’t let us down.

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Scobie: Tough words, and I feel bad using them ... this will be your legacy.

opiniongreen 100x100By Gary Scobie

January 14th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Scobie Jan 14

Gary Scobie

I am here today to speak in opposition to the sections of the Land Use Report that deal with downtown planning and the downtown Major Transit Station Area (MTSA). I support the recent letter to Council drafted by ECoB, Citizens’ Plan B and We Love Burlington citizens groups. I also support Jim Young’s recent article on his concern for a downtown maybe already lost.

Last time I was here in December, I disappointed some on Council.

I’ll warn you now that I’ll probably do that again today.

The MTSA is an outgrowth of both Urban Growth Centre and Mobility Hub designations from the first decade of this century.

It seeks to densify urban areas in Southern Ontario that satisfy or seek to satisfy the intermodal transit needs of citizens.

It has been known for quite a few years that the downtown Bus Terminal does not qualify even as an Anchor Mobility Hub, and the Dillon report finally acknowledges this clearly. I want to thank them for their honesty on this issue. I only wish that Planning staff had not chosen to disregard this acknowledgement and continue to plan as if the downtown is truly a Major Transit Station Area.

Repeatedly saying something that is untrue does not make it true and it certainly doesn’t help our case at the Local Planning Area Tribunal (LPAT) hearings.

The downtown MTSA, the Anchor Mobility Hub, and the Urban Growth Centre are the three cornerstones that legitimize the over-intensification of our downtown, notwithstanding that Burlington will reach its intensification targets before 2031 without their further help. They’ve already done enough damage. I want to offer some contextual comments before I return to the subject at hand, and request that you’ll let me do so. On November 13, 2017, I came before Council and referred to a recent Ryerson University report that worried about the average Toronto condo height increasing from 15 storeys to 21 storeys at that time. The authors were concerned about parking for residents and visitors, the increasing scarcity of parks nearby and the livability factors of these condo groupings. Were they indeed  communities at all?

I asked Council that night if they had the ethical and moral courage to stop their quest to legitimize the Anchor Mobility Hub in the Official Plan and instead make it an election issue in 2018. I also asked that they not grant the developer the right to build a 23 storey high rise at 421 Brant Street, across the road from City Hall.

421 Brant

Scobie on the decision to allow this 24 story structure: If you allow an OP with these designations, you will fail to save the downtown and that will be your legacy,

If they failed to accede to my request and the requests of others, I said the future of high rise buildings along Brant Street would be set that night. November 13, 2017 would go down in our history as the day our Council gave its blessing to a future building spree along Brant Street and its environs to the lake never seen before.

Of course that last Council did not listen to me nor other engaged citizens and the die was cast. Their legacy was set as the Council that abdicated responsibility for future downtown redevelopment.

We’ve continued to follow that path through OMB and LPAT decisions on approving high rises since then. But downtown over-intensification did indeed become an election issue and the majority of this new Council did actively campaign to stop it and can thank that issue in large measure as the reason why you were elected. And it was clear what citizens then wanted you to do.

Today or Thursday or at the January 30th Council meeting, the fate of the downtown is going to be decided by this Council and I am apprehensive to say the least. I view this report and the one on the recommended downtown development concept coming on Thursday as key drivers of the stake through the heart of the downtown. If the recommendations are allowed to stand and they lead to amendments to the OP within the designation mandates of the Urban Growth Centre, Anchor Mobility Hub and Major Transit Station Area, then I believe that the downtown’s fate is sealed as no longer a pedestrian-oriented place of retail, commerce and government but as a sterile, shadowed, windswept, unfriendly place of imposing podiums and high rises of steel, glass and concrete. I see only a few buildings left harkening to our past, like City Hall, Smith’s Funeral Home and the Queen’s Head Pub.

I know there is to be a follow-up study on the merits of the three land-use designations I’ve mentioned. But it will be too late if the OP is already amended as above. If you then intend to re-amend it without the three imbedded designations, the time it will take to remove them with permission from the Region and Province and come up with replacement intensity limits of our own making is simply not available in the five weeks before the March 5th ICBL end. Even if you can do this, it will result in a re-amended OP that I believe will be treated with disdain at every LPAT hearing to come and will be appealed over and over again by developers as unprofessional, poorly executed and manipulative.

Tough words, and I feel bad using them. I campaigned hard in 2018 and supported a number of you in the election, believing that we could save the downtown. But there is only one way – removal of all of the designations, not conformity to them. By investing all of the time, expense and effort in conforming, and none on the removal, we have squandered precious time and resources. It’s not just that we’ve fiddled while the downtown burned; we’ve created a complete orchestral composition that no citizen wants to listen to.

And remember, this composition is being directed for Planning staff by our new Council. You are on the hook for the results.

I’m asking you to put this composition on the back shelf where it belongs. I’m asking you to instead create a new composition without the three designations for the downtown that gives us back control of the downtown’s re-development future, with our own vision of reasonable height and retention of and respect for much of what we value.

Keep the recommendations for the GO Station Mobility Hub intensification that make sense and update the Official Plan once and done with those and with new wordings for the downtown of your own making. Answer only to citizens who elected you to save the downtown from a complete transformation, not to provincial bureaucrats in Toronto who make sweeping generalizations and rules for every city as if they are all the same. Nor to the Local Planning Area Tribunal, nor to the developers. Stand up to keep Burlington’s downtown as one of the main reasons we continue to be judged an excellent city to live in and visit. Adding high rises and further congestion will not add to our score in these ratings. If you allow an OP with these designations, you will fail to save the downtown and that will be your legacy, so early in your term. I don’t want that and neither should you.

Scobie spoke with both eloquence and passion.  No one on council asked him a follow up question

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Aldershot resident 'fears the downtown as we know it is already lost to over development.'

opinionred 100x100By Jim Young

January 10th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

Jim Young is going to be out of town on January 14th & 16th and unable to delegate when the City’s Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility Committee meet to discuss the Interim Control Bylaw (ICBL) and the Scoped Review of the 2018 Official Plan (OP). Here is what he would have loved to say.

Considering the Dillon Report on the ICBL, The Official Plan  Review (downtown precincts only), the continuing backlog of intensification zoning amendment applications and the complete lack of progress on the Transportation and Mobility Master Plan, I have to conclude that the ICBL has achieved nothing for the people of Burlington.

The ICBL was intended to buy the city a one year pause on the land planning process which would allow them to correct the more egregious errors of the OP. Citizens were hopeful that their concerns with the OP would be addressed. Concerns that: downtown intensification and building heights were extreme, exceeded provincial guidelines and that there was no Transit Plan in place to address the increased traffic and congestion that over-intensification would bring.

The over-intensification was predicated on the precinct being designated an Urban Growth Centre (UGC) which in turn was based on the Region’s designation of the bus ticket office on John Street as a Major Transportation Station Area (MTSA).

The ICBL and the OP Review have failed to address these concerns in a way that means anything to the people of Burlington.

Even the Dillon Report suggests the John Street Bus Terminal is not on a priority Transit Corridor, not supportive of regional transit and does not function as a major bus depot. Yet, so long as that John St. MTSA designation stays in place, any changes to the OP are meaningless and the proposed scoped review of that OP bears this out. Planners have presented two downtown options which amount to unattractive “Short Squat” density on Brant St from Ghent to Lakeshore or Alternating Extremely High buildings along that same stretch, neither of which have won favour with council and certainly do not appeal to local residents.

In the meantime the ICBL has not stopped developers from submitting numerous amendment applications, it has only stalled these in the process. They are still awaiting planning consideration while the ICBL is in effect. So even the hoped for “slowdown effect” has not been achieved. This will eventually allow developers to bypass the process by appealing to LPAT (Land Planning Appeals Tribunal) when planners are too overloaded to respond in time.

This will be aggravated by changes at LPAT, shortening the city’s response time from 210 to 90 days (120 for OP Amendments). Now even more failure to respond appeals will go to LPAT. Wins for developers will increase due to the fact they can now claim “compatibility” with the already approved/appealed hi-rises on Brant, Lakeshore and Martha Streets and the fact that city planners plan to “average” precinct density targets while developers and LPAT review applications on a case by case basis.

Burlington GO south side

The Burlington GO station is clearly a point where different forms of traffic can flow in and flow out.

There was a time when a much larger bus termial existed 25 yards to the left of this small terminal onm John Street - it was where people met. There were fewer cars, Burlington didn't have the wealth then that it has now. We were a smaller city, as much rural as suburban. The times have changed and transit now needs to change as well.

Report suggests the John Street Bus Terminal is not on a priority Transit Corridor

 

The end result will be a severely over-intensified downtown without a transit plan in place to move the additional people around or to the real MTSA at Fairview GO. While a dedicated few will cycle or walk from downtown to the GO station, it was always more likely that commuters already committed to transit into Toronto would take a bus to the GO. If the bus is there! Yet all the talk of “Integrated Transportation and Mobility” are centered on cycling, walkability and active mobility modes, ignoring the most efficient way to move people in an over-intensified and congested downtown: Improved Public Transit.

Sometimes it feels like downtown mobility concepts seek health outcomes more than serious transit solutions.

The year of grace granted by the ICBL would have been better served by planners creating the transit plan that would have connected the city’s Urban Growth Centres to its GO stations, eliminating the need for a downtown mobility hub, working instead with the Region to remove that downtown MTSA designation. The Dillon Report clearly points out that this is a regional responsibility, “………The Province directs that upper-tier municipalities such as the Region of Halton are responsible for evaluating the major transit station areas within the region, delineating the boundaries of each major transit station area ……….”.

Telier + MacDonald

Heather MacDonald with Planner Jamie Tellier at a council meeting.

Heather MacDonald, Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility suggests this was clearly the original intention of the City’s ICB: …. “The recommendation to implement an ICBL ……………. will come back to City Council on Jan. 14 with proposed amendments ……………. that will make it possible for new development in the identified study area to be better informed by the City’s transit, transportation and land use vision……” I ask again, as many did in 2017/2018: Where is The Transit Plan on which all this intensification is based?

City advocacy groups; Engaged Citizens of Burlington, We Love Burlington and Waterfront Plan B are disappointed (see Open Letter, Gazette January 6) that after so much citizen outreach, feedback and supposed input so little attention has been paid to their voices.

Jim Young 2Personally, I fear the downtown as we know it is already lost to over development. My only hope is that maybe now, finally, the city is coming to realize that that the voices of city residents must be heard. Because so far they have not.

Perhaps city engagement efforts should involve a little less reaching out, and a little more listening in.

Jim Young is an Aldershot resident who was part of the group that formed ECoB.  He delegates at city council frequently.

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Ward Councillor has to deal with numerous views on complex issues and then try to please everyone.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

January 8th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

There is often a high degree of tension between a ward Councillor and those who are both active and passionate about their community.

With almost every ward having a new council member there is bound to be some friction between the residents who were close to abused by the previous council and the new council member who is still learning the ropes.

National development Plains Rd Bingo hall

Greg Woodruff said he thinks the public input was sadly lacking on the 92 Plains Road development application – Ward Councillor doesn’t see it quite that way.

Last week Greg Woodruff, a former candidate for the Regional Chair and for the office of Mayor in 2018, wrote an opinion piece in which he set out his concerns with the practice some developers have gotten into the practice of taking their applications to LPAT as fast as they can. His Opinion piece is linked at the bottom of this piece.

Kelvin Galbraith responded to several questions the Gazette put to him with the following:  “As is the case with the 92 Plains Road site and other similar developments that have gone to LPAT, the public consultation and input has been used to form the final application that is being considered by staff and LPAT.

“The fact that some of the public’s input was not considered is usually because of a difference of opinion or that the planning rational by our professional planning staff could not support the request. Should the public have new information to form opposition to the development, they would have the opportunity to become a participant in the LPAT hearing.

Galbraith at King Paving

Kelven Galbraith had a solid handle on what the people of Aldershot were looking for – they don’t all agree with each other which puts him in an awkward spot from time to time,.

“At a settlement hearing, staff are not there to defend residents or participants. Planning staff have contributed to the settlement agreement and by this time it has been also endorsed by council so opposing the settlement at this stage would not make sense.”
Galbraith adds that: “There is a new pre-application process that adds another layer of public engagement when it comes to development applications. I would argue that this improves public input opportunities and assists with the tight timelines that we are now facing and hopefully prevents more applications from being appealed for lack of decision before the deadline.

“At some point in a development application a decision needs to be made. There will always be some opposition but we need to make decisions as staff and council that are best for the community. Much work and expense of the taxpayer are afforded to files that go the LPAT route. Negotiating a settlement as opposed to taking our chances with an adjudicator, allows our staff to offer their professional planning rational and come to some conclusion of the file and not prolong further expense. “

Galbraith points out that he is “not sure how the old council worked but I can say that I have offered a fresh set of eyes on every situation that I have encountered. Development is going to occur and Aldershot is seeing lots of interest and activity surrounding the Go station and Plains road. Many that I speak to in the community do not want empty lots, strip clubs and motels that currently hinder the success of our main street. I feel we are in an awkward period of transition between our old highway and a new urban strip of vibrancy with successful businesses and people living close to the amenities.”

Related Opinion piece
Woodruff on LPAT hearings: they are a total fraud.

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Community engagement on Aldershot development is currently a total fraud.

opinionred 100x100By Greg Woodruff

January 6th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

That headline is a strong statement but the 92 Plains Rd development is a case in point:

Planning department Staff did not come back to Council with a recommendation on the development application which gave the developer Chelten Developments Inc. an automatic Local Planning Act Tribunal hearing.

Tom Muir, also an Aldershot resident, has raised the issue of the Planning department repeatedly letting this happen: no accountability ever occurs. The current council has done nothing to address this issue. I’ve asked several times if Staff are attending LPAT hearings and if residents can get a heads up on what they are going to present. They don’t respond.

Currently, residents have no idea what the staff might present until the development application has already been settled and heading to LPAT. Council has done nothing on this practice.

National development Plains Rd Bingo hall

The development was originally for four stories of housing – the application was revised to six.

In the 92 Plains case, Tom Muir was able to get participant status at the hearing with a couple of other residents. Muir submitted several well-reasoned arguments as to process and development compatibility. He was doing the job Staff should have been doing. Some Planning Staff did attended the hearing but said nothing at that time.

Staff, who are paid by the residents through their taxes, should be on the side of truth or basic reality and represent the interests of the residents, assuming this is the will of council.

Because of the structure and process used by LPAT only people with accepted professional designations can give testimony. Staff have those designations. The developers have planners with the required designations. Staff chooses to be mute so the developer’s “land use planner” is then the only “planner” presenting evidence.

Muir, who consistently provides reams of evidence, which gets put into the file but is never heard at the hearing, because he is not a “land use planner”. If Burlington staff said the exact same words it would be “testimony” and the tribunal would have to take these points into consideration. However, since they don’t, the developer’s testimony is “uncontested”. The LPAT makes their decision based on what they hear and because there was evidence and testimony from just the one land use planner the LPAT Commissioner has to side with the evidence presented by the developer’s representative.

An LPAT decision made without any input from residents or council becomes just an elaborate farce.

It’s hard to tell if the LPAT system works or not; the negligence on the city’s part is staggering. Not only do they bungle the application by letting it go to LPAT because there was no decision within the required time frame. City staff doesn’t even say anything at the LPAT hearing. They could defend the settlement by backing up participants when the developer’s land use planner makes misleading statements.

92 Plains Go distance

Woodruff: This requirement was to take a point in the far end of the go station parking lot, not the entrance which is 600 m away.

That staff offers nothing at LPAT matters immensely because there is no evaluation of anything. The developer can just say anything true or not, real or not. For example, the developer said the development was within 500 m of the GO station. This requires them to take a point in the far end of the go station parking lot, not the entrance which is 600 m away. Would this have made any difference?

No one knows because the staff presented nothing. What residents present doesn’t matter. This because we are not “land-use planners” and cannot afford one.

Now we can get into an interesting discussion. Is the the city just insanely incompetent or is it deliberately “throwing the game”. The take-home point is “engagement” or “consultation” has nothing to do with what gets built. You either get planning staff to defend residents or we don’t have any say on development at all.

I have seen nothing that leads me to believe staff is doing anything differently than they were doing in the last administration. Nor, have I seen anything from the current council that directs staff to behave differently. Thus we are currently getting what we were getting from the old council.

That the LPAT system certainly sucks does not let the council off the hook. They don’t appear to be even trying to work the system. If the city was doing all that could be reasonably expected to give at least lip service to will of residents. However, the current new council is just working the will of the old council.

Putting the development in context.  Content taken from the developers application:

In 2008 the City of Burlington released its “Intensification Study” which intended to provide preliminary residential and employment intensification estimates to 2031 in support of the Sustainable Halton Plan. Within the study, Plains Road is identified as an “Urban Growth Corridor”

Staff outlined that there was potential for approximately 3,750 dwelling units and 7,500 residents along these particular growth corridors. The available GO Stations were an important component of the corridors, and these areas were identified as being suitable for higher intensity development. These figures were based on an estimate that indicated that future developments or redevelopments would be made up of 60% residential, 30% mixed use, and 10% retail/service commercial.

The owner has proposed to redevelop the subject site for a six storey, 49 unit apartment building with ground floor office/commercial uses.

The proposed building will front onto and have pedestrian access to the pedestrian network on Plains Road East. Vehicular access to the subject site and development will be maintained along Plains Road East.

The proposal will also be accessible via a mixture of public transit modes; the Aldershot GO Station is located within 500 m of the proposal (walking distance). Burlington Transit route 1(1x) provides east and west services along Plains Road, and is accessible just west of Birchwood Avenue, and immediately north of the subject lands on the north side of Plains Road East.

Woodruff

Greg Woodruff taking part in a Mayoralty debate broadcast by TVOntario

 

Take home points:
1) We need Council to change direction and insist that Staff defend the plans Council passes.
2) Tom Muir has basically done the work the planning department should have done.
3) Presently unelected LPAT Commissioner and developer consultants are deciding if we get to keep trees, stores, grass and sunlight in our community.

Greg Woodruff is an Aldershot resident who works as a web site developer. He ran for the Regional Chair in 2010 and for Mayor of Burlington in 2018.

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Marty Staz: There is a looming housing crisis that city council can fix - but there isn't much time left.

opinionred 100x100By Marty Staz

January 6th, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

From everything we read, although still little of what we see, it would appear that 2019 has brought the kind of change to our City that we all expected when our new Council was elected. I’m talking about how our City will grow.

Side view - mid rise

Staz looking over mid rise development guidelines released by the Planing department.

But the question that I believe stands in the forefront, is it the kind of change that we need and want, and have the property alternatives for growth really been considered? I realize it was too late for three monster buildings downtown, but we still hear of the same thing being the main topics of discussion at City Hall, and now there is talk of approving a 27 floor tower on the football at Lakeshore and Martha in return for a small piece of parkland. The truth is all we ever hear of is high rise towers being the solution to our growth. We can’t even consider single detached homes being part of our growth solution.

We saw a grand total of 495 newly built detached homes in our City in 2019 which doesn’t come close to addressing the problem.

What about the “Missing Middle”? This is something I have advocated for in the past and it is something that should be considered as a solution to our population growth. It would provide mid-range and affordable housing and put the brakes on turning our City into a maze of high rise tunnels.

Staz on magazine cover

Marty Staz a Chamber of Commerce member most of his professional life.

In a study done by Evergreen and the Canadian Urban Institute, the Missing Middle describes a range of housing types between single-detached houses and apartment buildings that have gone ‘missing’ from many of our cities in the last 60 to 70 years. The difference for Burlington is that we are in the process of creating a City that WILL be losing its middle, and at our current rate a lot faster than 60-70 years.

To clarify, what I am really talking about is homes that range from town-homes, 4-6 storey apartment buildings, laneway homes and triplex, fourplex type of homes. Homes that are capable of providing the 3 bedroom homes that growing families will need. Go ahead and look at the proposals of the towers currently approved and see how many units provide anything over 2 bedrooms. Go ahead and ask the future generation of homeowners where their ultimate dream home lies.

It is definitely not on the 24th floor with 2 bedrooms. They want to be able to walk out their door to their driveway or to a backyard.

The city is more than just the Escarpment to the north and the lake to the south. It is the people in between that determine who we really are. And it takes more than a magazine saying we are the #2 city in the country doesn't make it so.

The Green Belt in the Escarpment does not permit residential housing except in the settlement areas of Lowville and Kilbride and even there development is very limited. Half of Burlington’s land mass is zoned rural. No affordable homes in this part of the city.

The other consideration is affordability which must include a balanced mix of owned and rental homes. Of course a big challenge for our City is that land prices in our area, since we are land locked by the Greenbelt, are certainly not coming down. This is the argument many put forth to give credence to the high-rise solution. It’s going to take everyone from the public, private and non-profit sectors to come together to take a much deeper dive into how our City looks in the next 50 years.

3 story walk up

Good housing in stable neighbourhoods – and affordable.

Missing middle 3 levels with patio

Housing has to be within a stable community – and affordable.

The bottom line here is that our City is at a crossroads.  We have already stepped across the line. Before it’s too late we need to make some hard decisions that will make people want to stay in our City and move to our City because they see a better place to live. Isn’t that what Burlington has always been about?

Marty Staz retired from the printing business got into real estate and then found himself a candidate in the October 2018 municipal election as a candidate in ward 1.  He is an active member of the Chamber of Commerce

Background link:

The Missing Middle report: Click here

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The unfinished business from 2019 is the challenge for the city in the first half of 2020

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

January 2, 2020

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The doors to city hall were open this morning – it isn’t certain that a full complement is in place to get the wheels turning.

Ford on gapping

Joan Ford, City Treasurer, led a team that brought forward a budget that was given a solid work over by Council – her team responded quickly and found ways to meet the 2.99% this council wanted.

Many appear to be adding a couple of days to that magnificent period of time from the Eve of Christmas to the beginning of the New Year and returning to their desks on the 6th. There are a number of people, especially those in Planning and Finance who worked long hours responding to questions from council and revising documents – sometimes on the fly, who deserve any additional time they were able to get over the holidays.

The Clerk’s department has had its hands full; they will be dealing with a significant shake up at the leadership level – will the new Clerk come from within or will Burlington look for a seasoned Clerk elsewhere. There are a number of women in that department who could take on that job – the City Manager is one who could nurture one of several women who have shown considerable promise. A change in attitude within the department will be welcome for those who happen to deal with the Clerk’s office on a frequent basis.

Some members of council were making the best of that opportunity.

Land Uses Dec 2019

135 pages long and dense + the appendices.

The Mayor has said she would be burrowing down and working her way through the several documents that were part of the Land Use Study that was brought about when the Interim Control Bylaw (ICBL) was passed last March. The document and its appendices are not for the faint of heart; it will be interesting to hear what Council has to say when it meets at a Statutory Meeting January 14th.

Those who do read the document might well ask if the will of council has been fully discerned by the consultants who wrote the report and the Planning staff team that sent the report to Council.

Lakeshore pic 2 3d

The Taking a Closer Look at Downtown report was a blurred image to many. They get another chance on January 16th to put up a clearer picture.

Two days after the Land Use Study Statutory meeting council will see the second version of what might be included in the Re-examination of the Adopted Official Plan report that didn’t get a round of applause from Council when they reported to Council in December.

At the risk of appearing petty we wonder just how many members of Council reported the gifts they received from developers, National Homes appears to be the one looking for “por favour” from Council – they have two applications that are both at LPAT with settlements that have yet to be given the LPAT seal of Approval.

Lisa excited

Kearns chose to share the gift she got with her colleagues.

Several of the Council members said that they didn’t accept the gift – instead passed it along to a community organization – except for Councillor Kearns who, after explaining in some detail that she does not accept gifts, went on to say that she shared the gift with others on the 7th floor – which is where we house Council members.

Roland Tanner, who actually reads critical documents that come out of city hall, pointed out that the Code of Good Governance , a document signed by every member of Council, as well as being the subject of a half day Workshop, states quite clearly what is to be done with any gift that gets sent along to a Council member.

One of the requirements is to report receipt of the gift to the Clerk, who is required to report annually to the public on who was offered what. We will watch for that report.

The October 2018 municipal election gave the city a new set of wheels to move forward on; the electors chose the candidate for Mayor they believed could best bring about the change they wanted. There was no doubt about that vote.

The five newcomers have had the time they needed to get to know and understand each other; appreciate the different strengths and weaknesses and create some common cause.

In the first six months of 2020 they are going to have to make some very significant decisions – the response to the Land Use Study, getting a rejigged Official Plan in place and sending a stronger message to Staff on just what the will of council is and making sure they understand just what that will is and that it is adhered to – we aren’t there yet. Several news stories and opinion pieces we will publish in the days ahead make that point quite clear.

Football - east end

Proposed for the eastern gateway to the downtown core.

The city and its bureaucrats need to make it as clear as possible to the development community that Burlington is not a community where anything goes.

Meed Ward - tight head shot

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward: Much more than a pretty face.

Mayor Meed Ward has shown that she knows how to take the gloves off and land a solid punch on the nose – when the Grow Bold mantra had lost favour and whatever charm it had, the planners were a little slow in getting the message. Meed Ward made the course correction that was necessary when she said:  would “provide absolute clarity to staff and to the community that the City of Burlington staff are not to use the adopted 2018 plan in evaluating current/new development applications. Multiple analyses by staff in assessing development applications, downtown in particular, have made it clear we do not need to over intensify in order to meet our obligations under the Places To Grow legislation.”

Stand By says the city motto - for how long one might ask?It is going to be an interesting six months – far too early to suggest that the year will be: a great one for the city – although the potential is certainly there.

That phrase on the city crest Stand By is perhaps the appropriate phrase for the year.

And lastly – do the police have Sean Baird in custody ? And if not – why not?

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

Related news stories:

Mayor shows how to get a message to Staff

The gifts that shouldn’t have been accepted.

Come home Sean.

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Rivers on resolutions: Climate change is all that matters

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

December 31, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

What if my new year resolution was to stop writing about global warming?

I realize that I have been preoccupied, some might say obsessed, by what I see as the greatest existential threat facing the planet and all of its inhabitants. And there is a kind of frustration that, after spending decades working on climate change policy with governments and the private sector, so little has actually been accomplished.

coal fired elec

Coal fired electricity generators.

Brian Mulroney and Bill Clinton first talked about carbon pricing back some 30 years ago. Jean Charest, my minister of the environment, spoke of the urgency of global warming at the Rio climate summit back in 1992. Jean Chretien took us in the Kyoto protocol and McGuinty and Wynne got us off coal fired electricity.

Yet today Donald Trump is the world’s biggest advocate for dumping more carbon emissions into the atmosphere. And despite some progress on the climate file since Stephen Harper’s government was voted out of office, something as straight forward as Canada’s carbon tax is still being debated in the courts.

Today, over 90% of all new cars are still powered by petroleum and new houses are still being built with gas appliances and fixtures. The Alberta and Saskatchewan governments, with their populations solidly behind them, are promoting even more oil and natural gas development and export.

And even Ontario’s progressive development of green energy has been stopped in its tracks by a new government determined to unravel every single piece of environmental legislation developed by all three political parties dating back as far back as the 1980’s.

Yet the evidence, the signs, of what we are doing to the planet is overwhelming. The latest sign comes to us from satellite imagery of a massive patch of superheated water the size of Texas, threatening oceanic life just off the coast of New Zealand. This year flooding and storm intensity continued to expand across the globe – leaving an ever increasing path of destruction.

Wildfires in Canada now destroy 2.5 million hectares a year, an area nearly half the size of Nova Scotia and double the 1970s average. Alberta is one of the worst affected areas. Of course as the highest polluting jurisdiction in Canada, it is as if some invisible hand is administering retributive justice.

fort-mcmurray-fire

Forest fires raging through Fort McMurray Alberta

The Fort McMurray fire in 2016, smack dab in the heart of the oil sands, was the largest wildfire evacuation in our history. And Australia is a stark reminder of where we are heading. I received a Christmas card from a friend in Melbourne Australia. She wrote “The fires are a real tragedy and a reminder that we should be doing more to stop climate change.”

Indeed, Australia is by far the world’s largest coal exporting nation. That would be a good place to start.

Andrew Scheer and other climate change deniers have pointed out that Canada’s national emissions are only a fraction of those of China and the USA. For them it was a matter of ‘After You, Alphonse’ as per the old New York Journal comic strip. They conveniently ignore the fact that Canada will experience twice as much warming as these other nations – so it should matter more to us.

sea ice

Arctic sea – vital to the environment.

And the other thing they don’t tell you is that oil, coal and gas exports are not included in our emission numbers. So in 2014 we emitted more carbon embedded in our fossil fuel exports than we emitted nationally. We effectively doubled our contribution to global warming. But it is worse that that. By adding more coal, oil and gas onto global markets we help lower the prices of these commodities.

It’s simple demand and supply. Lower fossil fuel prices promote more consumption and carbon emissions, making a sad mockery of Messrs Scheer, Moe and Kenney’s perverse claims that they can combat climate change by simply exporting more fossil fuels. When he heard that kind of nonsense spoken in public, my father used to say, “they need their heads examined”. But these are political leaders at the highest levels so it has to be more than just deceptively flawed logic.

Energy use, including transportation and home heating, is still one of the biggest aspects of our carbon footprint. Lower fuel prices will forestall decisions to substitute cleaner energy for the internal combustion engine and that gas flame for your heating and cooking needs. Higher prices encourage conservation – that is why the carbon tax will be effective.

Greta Thunberg

The hope is the words spoken by Greta Thurnberg, a 16 year-old Scandinavian

A new year should bring us a moment for hope and promise. There is always hope but the promise for our future is not pretty. My annual predictions in the past have been erratic, sporadic and often just plain wrong. So this year I thought I’d just go with the collective global science community.

Their prediction is that we are moving faster than ever towards a tipping point. And if they are right, in about a dozen years global warming will become irreversible and get worse every year thereafter.

As we struggle with the effects of the proverbial hangover January 1st, we should contemplate what lies ahead for us in what seems to be a highly dystopian future. The fact is that our governments have failed to protect us. Or perhaps, and more accurately, we have mostly failed to elect the kind of governments which would have acted sooner and more effectively.

So I’m taking action in my own hands this year and suggest you join me. I’m making and planning to keep resolutions to lower my individual carbon footprint. I already have geothermal heating and cooling, an electric plug-in car and a solar panel. So this year I’m resolving to get rid of my remaining gas appliances entirely, including my fireplace and barbecue.

What about you?

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  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. He developed the current policy process for the Ontario Liberal Party.

Background links:

The Future –     2019 Predictions –    2020 Predictions –     Australian Reality

Hot Water –     EVs –    Oil SubsidyWe Didn’t Get Much Done

Cost of Climate Change –    Exporting Carbon – 

 

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Are residents being well served by the new Customer Service Response system?

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

December 20th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

More than eight years ago during a conversation with then Mayor Rick Goldring he remarked on how surprised he was when people would approach him in the supermarket or at some event and chat him up. It wasn’t something he expected when he was elected Mayor.

Goldring

There were different views on Rick Golding’s effectiveness as a Mayor – but there was never any doubt that he cared passionately about his city. See him in a Santa Claus parade collecting loonies and twonies in a sock.

But it is what people expected of their elected representatives. In Burlington people want to keep that small town feel and know that they can approach their member of city council to talk about a problem or a concern. The practice then, for many of the council members, was to give the citizen their business cards and ask them to call their assistant, explain the problem and the Councillor would follow up and make sure it was taken care of.

Then something changed. Not sure where the change came from. We recall conversations a number of years ago from a General Manager (when Burlington had General Managers) about installing a CSR (Customer Service Response) system – this was supposed to handle all the communications problems.

The Gazette is in touch with members of Council frequently – the level of response varies, most get back quite quickly. There is one who said he had been told “not to talk to you” when we approached and asked a question.

We recently sent a note to a member of Council and used the new system – the one where you enter the ward number – ward4@burlington.ca – if you wanted to reach Shawna Stolte.

Here is what came back to us:

CRM notice

Being referred to as a “case number” didn’t strike me as all that customer friendly.

Maybe times are changing and it will all come down to each of us being a “case” with a number from which all our questions will be answered.

How much did the city spend on the system that assigns me my case number and are we getting value for those dollars?

Perhaps the problem is the Councillors just don’t have the time needed to respond to all the calls.

There is a solution to that problem – add more Councillors.  But that is not likely to happen for one reason – it would impact on the financial interests of the current members of Council.

Burlington has seven seats on the Regional government Council.  If we added Council member they would not get a seat at the Regional level and not earn the $50,000 +/-

Oakville solved that problem by having members of Council that are Regional Councillors as well as town Councillors and some who are just town Councillors.

Council ALL 2018

There are seven members of council in Burlington – are they able to meet the needs of the people they represent?

It is a direction Burlington should at least be looking at – soon, so they can be in a position to approach the electors in the 2022 municipal election with a council structure that meets the needs of the citizens.

Don’t expect the current council to put that kind of initiative on the table.

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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Rivers: Who do we hold accountable if we fail to stop climate warming?

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

December 19th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

“President Donald Trump, Florida Gov. Rick Scott, Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, and others who oppose action to address human-induced climate change should be held accountable for climate crimes against humanity.” (Jeffrey David Sachs- special adviser to the UN)

heavy smoker

He had no idea what he was doing to his body.

Have we learned anything from the tobacco companies? For decades they understood the consequences of smoking and second hand smoke. But rather than changing their product, or at a minimum, informing the public, they lied – hiding the truth about the dangers, sowing confusion and misleading the public about the health hazard of their products. It was deliberate and it was manslaughter – a crime against humanity.

So now we find out that the oil companies did the same thing. Their research as far back as the fifties pointed to today’s evolving climate change. And they too established a program of disinformation and outright lies, enabling climate deniers like GW Bush and Stephen Harper to employ the uncertainty they created as an excuse to resist climate action.

Greta Thunberg

Greta Thunberg

Alberta’s latest enabler Jason Kenney has just opened his energy war room, furthering the notion that Alberta is under attack by the environmentalists. And he’s poured $30 million to make himself battle ready for the fight to the finish against the 16 year young Greta Thunberg and those other fearsome greenies. And the chest pounding, hype and propaganda are working.

Albertans were motivated to donate more than anyone else in the last federal election, hoping to get the pro-oil Conservatives elected. And now Kenney’s blind defence of big oil has even spilled over into the classroom. Parents at one Alberta school have threatened a teacher not to use a balanced approach, pros and cons, when it comes to teaching about the oil sands. According to the oil zealots there can be no discussion of a downside to Alberta’s biggest industry.

A few days ago Mr. Kenney rode into Ottawa to shake hands with Mr. Trudeau and pretend he wanted to mend fences, offering him one heck of a Faustian bargain. Green light another monster oil sands project and reap some kind of political peace in exchange. It was an offer he thought Trudeau couldn’t refuse. But chances are pretty good he will.

The Teck Resources proposed Frontier mine oil sands project would convert 24,000 hectares of mostly northern Alberta wetland into two massive open mine pits, a bitumen processing plant and a tailing pond for the toxic waste residue. And it would likely need another pipeline to move the estimated 260,000 barrels of bitumen a day the project will produce.

Four million tonnes of greenhouse gases (GHG) a year will be pumped into the atmosphere every year for the next 41 years. The project would last over a decade beyond the PM’s commitment to achieve net zero emissions. And that does not account for the GHG emissions resulting from burning all that oil.

Trudeay and Kenney - the handshake

Kenney did eventually shake the Prime Ministers hand.

And is Kenney serious? How would Trudeau square approving this massive carbon emitting project with his 2030 emissions target. He would lose any credibility he has on the climate change file and with it the support of the third parties, whose support he is counting on for this current mandate. Mr. Kenney may not be the devil but he came to Ottawa to steal Justin’s soul and then to damn the rest of us to an ever faster and more aggressive global warming.

Look at Australia which has just experienced its hottest day ever amid the worst bush fires in the nation’s history. The massive area of scorched earth will take decades before it can be rehabilitated, its wine industry has been dealt a blow and a toxic cloud has blanketed its largest city and drifted across the Tasman Sea as far as New Zealand. The fires have emitted half of the annual GHG national contribution of carbon, and they are still burning.

Australia is the world’s largest exporter of coal, mainly to Asia. Much like Canada it has an obscene carbon footprint, not even counting the emissions from the coal it exports. It once dabbled with a carbon tax, but like we did in Ontario the Aussies booted out their environmentally conscious government for one led by a series of right wing climate action deniers.

And speaking of Ontario, premier Doug Ford is as busy as ever eliminating every single climate change mitigation program the previous government had initiated – as if somehow the climate is a partisan issue. And the provincial auditor general has warned that Ford will not come anywhere near the provincial 2030 emission reduction target. But nobody, including his environment minister, expects him to, anyway.

Ford scrapping carbon tx

He means every word in the sign before him – unfortunately.

So far he has cancelled the provincial cap and trade carbon pricing system, eliminated rebates for home energy conservation and electric vehicle (EV) purchases, cancelled plans for high speed rail travel, ended the provincial EV charging station program and the requirement for charging to be available in new housing. He has shut down almost 800 renewable energy projects, is fighting the federal carbon tax up to the Supreme Court, and has just canceled Hamilton’s light rail transit system.

Transitioning to a zero carbon society is unlikely to be accomplished at zero cost. But as we have already seen, the consequences of climate change will be much more costly. Just ask the Australians. And the fact is that the cost for many of the transitional changes can be phased in as existing infrastructure gets replaced. Or the costs can be redistributed and shared, like the carbon tax, to avoid major impacts for those in need.

Pennywise and pound foolish are those who would avoid transitioning as quickly as possible to a lower carbon footprint. Financial debt can be paid off, but restoring the earth’s climate and the life it supports, once we have passed a tipping point will be impossible. Which do we think future generations would object to the most? And who do you think they will blame for these climate crimes against humanity?

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes weekly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  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. He developed the current policy process for the Ontario Liberal Party.

 

Background links:

Crimes Against Humanity –     Tobacco Crimes –    COP 25 Madrid

Australia –    Alberta Political Donations –     Teacher Threatened

Kenney –     Natural Gas –    Oil Sands –    Alberta War Room

Oil Deception –     More Australia –     Hamilton

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Andrew Scheer got this one right: Liberals in the House didn't support his motion.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

December 13th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Readers will know that it is not often I agree with Andrew Scheer. But I was encouraged by the part of his rebuttal to the throne speech, where he raised resolution of the year-long China problem. And again, I applauded Scheer’s follow-up motion to strike a committee to that end, a motion supported by all the opposition parties, though not the Liberals.

andrew_scheer

Scheer’s motion to strike a committee that would look into Canada China relations was a good move.

It’s possible the government knows what it is doing on this file and has it under control. But that’s not good enough. Canadians are in the dark and want some answers. The Chinese leadership’s anger over the detention of the nation’s Huawei executive is unmeasured and precipitous. Seizing innocent Canadians and torturing them to make a point and then declaring a trade war are pretty hostile acts for a nation which used to consider Canada one of its best friends in the west.

Bethune

Dr. Norman Bethune saved the lives of millions of Chinese soldiers and civilians during the second Sino-Japanese war. He is credited with bringing modern medicine to rural China.

Canadians were once held in high regard. Our own Dr. Norman Bethune saved the lives of millions of Chinese soldiers and civilians during the second Sino-Japanese war. He is credited with bringing modern medicine to rural China, having treated sick villagers as well as wounded soldiers. His selfless commitment made such an impression that Mao Zedong wrote a eulogy to him on his death – one that had been celebrated by generations of Chinese people.

That may be too long ago for today’s Chinese leaders, but even they might have heard that it was Justin’s father, Pierre, who made Canada the first western country, since before the Korean War, to it grant it recognition as the rightful government of China. Canada also played the lead role in bringing China into the World Trade Organization, something which stinks of irony now that we are having to sue them over their illegal blockade of our oil seed and meat exports.

China is our second biggest trading partner. But the trade is horribly lopsided. We import much more than they buy from us. In 2016 we imported over $40 billion more than we exported to China. Much of that trade is in the kind of disposal-ready stuff one sees at the Dollar Store or Walmart, aka China Inc. Chinese-made goods have virtually helped decimate our textile, book making and other manufacturing industries.

And Canadians are starting to get fed up. For example, a recent Pew Research survey showed that two-thirds of Canadians now view China negatively. But we don’t see that reflected in the limited actions our federal government has taken so far, actions which have failed to bring about the kind of behavioural changes we should expect.

So people are speaking up. The Senate recently suggested using the Magnitsky law to sanction Chinese officials. Somebody else has mused that we should ban commercial air freighters from over flying Canada. Of course banning Huawei from investing in Canadian telecom infrastructure, as most of our five eyes partners have done, is a no brainer.

Emerald ash bore wings open

Emerald ash borer: The insect arrived from China in some kind of wood product and is now eradicating ash trees across this province.

Even though China is in the WTO, the nation is anything but a fair trader, it has a long history of ‘dumping’ goods on foreign markets, stealing intellectual property and manipulating its currency. We could retaliate in kind. For example banning all Chinese forest products as a precaution against something like the emerald ash borer ever happening again. The insect arrived from China in some kind of wood product and is now eradicating ash trees across this province.

The Trudeau government has promised legislation to ban single use plastics. We could virtually ban imports from all nations, including China, which are packaged in plastic – or at least insist that all exporting nations take its waste back for recycling… and not just dump it in the ocean.
And then there is the question of foreign investment. Mr. Trudeau, like his processor Mr. Harper has appeared indecisive and inconsistent, seemingly making up policy on the fly, when trying to decide just how much of our door we can safely open to the second largest economy on earth.

Today’s China is a rapidly militarizing autocratic state with a president-for-life. And given the upshot from this Huawei extradition morass it is clear that China understands neither the rule of law nor how to conduct non-combative diplomacy. One just needs to consider Tibet, Tiananmen Square, Falun Gong, Uighurs and now Hong Kong where 300,000 people with Canadian citizenship live.

Tianamin square

Tiananmen Square and the courage of one man – changed the world.

This is a complicated and even dangerous file, and lives are at stake. In addition, China has been touted as one of the potential markets for all that extra oil and gas which Alberta and B.C. keep saying they can export. But how likely is that if Canada responds in-kind and the spat escalates?

Andrew Scheer did the PM a favour by striking this committee, something which Trudeau may learn to appreciate, despite his knee jerk rejection. Perhaps he is concerned about control. Though chaired by the PM’s party, Liberals are not in majority. And the PM and ministers can be called to testify as witnesses. And why not? Call it full disclosure. Call it burden sharing. Call it how minority government should work – that is, cooperatively.

It is been a rare moment when this columnist actually agreed with the leader of the Conservative party. And then Mr. Scheer has the gumption to up and resign, apparently because he was under attack for using party funds to send his kids to private school. Maybe I shouldn’t have been so quick to give Scheer my blessing.

Rivers hand to faceRay Rivers writes regularly on both federal and provincial politics, applying his more than 25 years as a federal bureaucrat to his thinking.  Rivers was once a candidate for provincial office in Burlington.  He was the founder of the Burlington citizen committee on sustainability at a time when climate warming was a hotly debated subject.   Ray has a post graduate degree in economics that he earned at the University of Ottawa.  Tweet @rayzrivers

 

Background links:

Trudeau Legacy China –     China History

Throne Speech –    Magnitsky

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Sound of Music appears before city council budget committee - there might not be much for the Festival.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

December 11th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

With the budget before them and the Mayor having whittled down what she would like to see in the way of a tax increase to 3.99% it was time for delegations to speak about what they would like to see.

There were several outstanding delegations – asking for the most part for additional staff to be on the Climate Change file and for better communications coming out of city hall.

Myles Rusak 2

Myles Rusak, Executive Director Sound of Music Festival: Making his case for a funding increase.

There were two exceptions: Myles Rusak speaking for Sound of Music who wants an additional $40,000 a year each year for the next three years starting with this year.

Why?

The other levels of government have cut back on what the Sound of Music was getting and SoM isn’t interested in cutting back. They want the city to make up the short fall.

Their view seems to be that if they cut back on the quality of what they have been doing, audiences will dwindle and the economic impact of what SoM does for the city will dwindle as well.

Last year SoM did a two day kick off – that’s the period of time when paid ticket performances are put on stage – to raise money for the shows that the public can see free.

The two day Kick off didn’t work out all that well last year – so it will be just a one day event going forward.

It may be quite a bit less than that if the city doesn’t come up with some cash.

There is a Municipal Accommodation Tax  somewhere in the works at Queens Park – Myles wants to get a piece of that using the phrase “100% – we want some of those dollars”. Mayor Marianne Meed Ward pointed out that it is city council that decides where the dollars go.  Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT) Hotels and people doing short-term rentals must pay a four per cent Municipal Accommodation Tax (MAT). More information will become available in December 2019, regarding short-term rental regulations.

Myles told Council, meeting as a budget committee, that SoM has been meeting with anyone that delivered a service to the public, looking for ways to partner with them. The YMCA, the Library, the Museum, the Performing Arts Centre – conversations have taken place looking for ways to partner with them.

Tammy Fox hands-out-768x578

Tammy Fox, Executive Director of the Performing Arts Centre has been waiting to hear from Myles Rusak for sometime.

Roll that film back – during our last interview-conversation with Tammy Fox at the Performing Arts Centre she said that she has been trying for a couple of years to put something together with the SoM. Which is correct? We’re going with Tammy.

Myles told council that he has as yet not been able to meet one-on-one with every council member. Then he hasn’t been trying very hard. Councillor Sharman would certainly like to have a conversation with Myles and the SoM music long term plans – the Mayor probably has some sage advice for Myles as well.

Myles talked the big picture and said that that the Sound of Musical Festival was going to drop the word Festival from the brand name.

The want to be seen as more than a ten-day event and become the organization that gives the music industry in Burlington the cohesiveness it lacks.

Myles wants SoM to be the curator of everything that is music in town – from what takes place at the Library to what is featured at Emmas.

Myles Rusak 1

The Sound of Music wants to morph from a 10 day event to become the curator of everything musical in the city. They are looking for much more in the way of clout.

It is an ambitious reach – one that is going to have to be earned and not taken.

SoM was once an organization that had an active membership – anyone could be a member and every member could vote for the Board of Directors. That form of governance disappeared about four years ago when Andy Porecki was Executive Director.

When the Board decided that Dave Miller needed to use the exit door – he was dismissed rather unceremoniously which threw the membership into a serious state of confusion. SoM almost had a mutiny on its hands. The unhappy members were not able to organize themselves and bring about changes that would make the organization more transparent and accountable.

Councillor Sharman wanted to know what part the city would play in this change in the way music would be managed, overseen and developed. “We have people on staff” said Sharman who can and should be part of the thinking you are doing.”

Myles said he has had meetings with a few people at Parks and Recreation and he has been working with Tourism as well.

The SoM gets $106,093 from the city each year. He wanted that bumped up by $40K this year and an additional $40,000 for the next two years.

Myles said they are putting together a television show with Cogeco and that there are plans to put on a program with the Indigenous community that will be highlighted in 2020.

Myles Rusk 4

Sound of Music needs a fatter cheque from the city.

Sharman wanted to know a lot more before he went anywhere with additional financing. As he put it he “wants to eat the meal before he pays for it”.

Councillor Kearns cut Myles short – as chair she had heard enough. Kearns sits on the SoM Board.

Myles Rusak should wait for a fatter cheque to arrive from the city. He should take Tammy Fox out to lunch – she really does want to do some business with the Sound of Music people – she has been trying to get something going for more than two years.

Myles needs to learn just who will butter the bread he needs. Council needs to be romanced.

Related news stories:

SoM lets council know they will be back looking for financial support

SoM volunteers feel left out.

S0M – trouble in paradise

Salt with Pepper is the musings, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette, an online newspaper that was formed in 2010 and is a member of the National Newsmedia Council.

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The disappointment heard around the city.

opinionred 100x100By James Young

December 9th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

I attended The Planning and Development Committee on Thursday when Councillor Bentivegna expressed his controversial “disappointment” with a delegation.

Lynn and Blair 3

Lynn Crosby and Blair Smith delegating at city hall.

I heard presentations by city planners and consultants, one doesn’t have to agree with them to find them informative. I heard informative delegations from Lynn Crosby and Blair Smith of “We Love Burlington” and Don Fletcher for “Plan B”, the conscience of our waterfront. I heard self-serving delegations from developers and their professional associations, leaving me wondering: Do developers from Hamilton or Toronto deserve equal consideration with local residents who have to live with the developments long after developers have moved on?

In the evening session I heard a detailed delegation from Gary Scobie, who provided councillors with a concise, accurate and informative planning history of Downtown. I hope council and staff learn as much as I do every time Gary delegates.

Roland Tanner, for Engaged Citizens of Burlington, gave an intelligent dissertation on the compromise inherent in the staff recommendation, to get the Official Plan done now and fight the Major Transit Station Area (MTSA) and Urban Growth Centre (UGC) designations later.

I loved David Barker’s idea of a pedestrian area at Lakeshore and Brant St.

Coming from Glasgow where, in the 1970s, Sauchiehall and Buchanan Streets were pedestrianised and closed to traffic. On a Burlington scale: this is the equivalent of closing Lakeshore from Guelph Line to Maple Ave. and Brant Street from Fairview to Lakeshore. Despite the hue and cry at the time about where will cars go? How will local businesses survive?

Fifty years on, these streets bustle with successful retail, patio cafes and restaurants, buskers on street corners, making it one of the most vibrant and attractive pedestrian precincts in the world. So closing Brant from Caroline to Lakeshore as a pedestrian precinct seems easily achievable if the city will is there.

Scobie 5

Gary Scobie during his delegation.

Then there was the “disappointment” that councillor Bentivegna expressed at some of Gary Scobie’s delegation. This seems to have outraged some Gazette contributors.

I disagreed with the councillor. Gary was spot on in his summation of the Downtown OP Review. But was it outrageous or disrespectful? Have we reached a stage in our sensitivity that any criticism or response to a delegation is somehow offensive? What I saw was a poorly thought out point from the councillor, very ably responded to by Gary in what he later described as the normal thrust and parry of council/delegate debate.

My take on outrage is: “Commentators may not be more outraged than the victims.” I happened to be sitting with Gary and Roland Tanner when Clr. Bentivegna stopped by to discuss their delegations. Neither Roland nor Gary were outraged or offended. For those so outraged by a single word, cast your minds back to a time when five of seven councillors repeatedly offended and were downright rude to delegates like Gary, Tom Muir, Lynn Crosby, myself and many others. While I understand and respect Clr. Nisan’s desire for decorum, perhaps he was a little quick on the draw in this case.

Angelo B

Angelo Bentivegna

I was actually more offended when Clr. Bentivegna appeared to question the legitimacy of Roland Tanner’s ECoB delegation, while he accepted the presence of We Love Burlington and Plan B groups without question. Perhaps he should reflect on the influence of ECoB on the outcomes of last municipal election and be quietly thankful.

I leave readers with two thoughts on the Downtown Proposals:

If an OP is approved based on the existing designation of downtown as a MTSA/UGC, then those designations are rescinded, doesn’t that nullify that OP?

Might developers appeal that at LPAT?

Might the Province or Region resist undoing those designations on the grounds that the new OP was approved based on those designations?

I also worry that the planner’s two options are based on provincially mandated “average” UGC density targets of around 200 people or jobs per hectare. Yet developers will still apply for amendments on a case by case basis, most of which considerably exceed that number.

Judging by past appeals it appears that LPAT adjudicates on this case by case basis, regardless of Official Plan’s average densities. This will inevitably lead to over intensification which will strain infrastructure, roads, transit, traffic congestion, all of which are planned around that 200 average.

Jim Young 2James Young is an Aldershot resident who has delegated at city hall frequently.

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Joseph Gaetan sees an upside to online learning - it worked for him.

opinionred 100x100By Joseph A. Gaetan

December 9th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

At the moment, the secondary school unions and the Ontario government are at loggerheads over whether 4, 2 or 0 online classes should be offered. Having experienced both traditional and e-learning firsthand I can attest to the fact that in both cases some courses are delivered better than others.

Online 1

Take your courses when you want – where you want and if you didn’t get it the first time yo can replay the class.

In my experience there is room for improvement on both fronts and not every subject is a candidate for e-learning. One of the criticisms I have heard about e-learning involves access to tutors, something I found to be both a problem and an opportunity. On one hand not having instant access to a tutor can be frustrating, on the other hand, from personal experience, it can make you dig deeper for the solution. In education, as in life, some of the things that stick with us the most are the things we had to work the hardest to achieve. Easy and instant access to resources is not always the answer and is not always the best form of education.

Say or think what you want about online learning, it has been here a while and it is here to stay, and, it’s growing in leaps and bounds. For many people it is a game changer as it may be the only way they can earn those last few credits or a credential that they otherwise would not be able to earn. For some it is a matter of cost or a way to balance raising a family while earning a living.

According to the “Ontario Learn” website, in 1995 seven colleges put their heads together and started to offer online courses, today 24 Ontario colleges offer high quality online education. The original seven realized that by pooling resources, they could extend their reach by offering online courses and programs to students who would not otherwise have access to them.

“Athabasca University” (AU) is a Canadian Open University specializing in online distance education and is one of four comprehensive academic and research universities in Alberta. Founded in 1970, it was the first Canadian university to specialize in distance education. Athabasca offers online undergraduate and graduate programs and courses. AU serves over 38,000 students (over 7,900 full-load equivalents) and offers over 900 courses in more than 50 undergraduate and graduate programs in a range of arts, science and professional disciplines.

If you haven’t heard of a MOOC, you aren’t alone. MOOCS or Massive Open Online Courses have unlimited participation and open access via the web. EDx is just one online MOOC platform that has about 14 million learners and is the second largest MOOC provider in the world. The global MOOC market size was estimated to be $4 billion in 2018.

When I wanted to brush up on my knowledge of social media marketing, I turned to EDx and promptly found 10 offerings. One course from Boston University not only met my needs but allowed me, should I so desire, to earn a credit towards a Micro Masters. The course starts in April of 2020 and currently has 69,871 registrants.

So why all the fuss and push back here in Ontario? Online learning is anything but new. Online learning may also be the only choice for some people who have different learning styles or disabilities. My granddaughter is in grade 10 so I sought her opinion on the topic. Her response; she prefers having a teacher in front of her. Good enough. Online learning is not for everyone. Some students like my granddaughter prefer a live teacher, some may learn better, as I did, with online learning.

The current generation of high school students are prodigious users of online technology. So why not offer them online learning as part of our high school curriculum? Failing to offer online learning in this day and age is a missed opportunity.

Athabasca University has been around since 1970 and Ontario Learn since 1995, and 2020 is just around the corner, so let’s get on with it, but do it right, and by that I mean involving the right stakeholders be it parents, students, teachers and the government in the process.

There is but one pool of taxpayer money, some of that pool is dedicated to education, some of that pool goes towards paying for infrastructure, some for books and supplies, some for school repairs and maintenance, and some to teachers and other staff.

Online 2

There are strengths and weaknesses to online education. It does cost the governments less.

We have one of the best and most expensive education systems in the world. In order to continue to be the best we must find a way to make online learning part of that system and we can either lead the way, or we can sit back and suffer the consequence of lagging as did Research in Motion (RIM) aka Blackberry.

At the moment online education is geared to post-secondary learning. I see two pathways for primary and secondary student e-learning. One has the government and other stakeholders working hand in hand to figure out how to make e-learning part of Ontario’s education future.

The other path is market based where the government with the help of e-learning experts such as EDx create a series K to 12 courses that are optional for those who would benefit the most. In the end this approach will only work if there is value to members of the target market, “the student”.

Joseph GaetanJoseph A. Gaetan has a BGS degree in applied studies, earned through studies at The University of Waterloo and Athabasca University. He also earned a Province of Ontario Engineering Technology Certificate through Fanshawe College, and for 8 years worked at earning a trade becoming a Journeyman Machinist. He also studied French at the Centre Linguistique du Collège de Jonquière and Italian at Mohawk College. In addition, he has taken online courses through the EDx platform taking courses from Harvard, The University of Queensland, Wellesley and Delft Wageningen, he is currently working at learning 6 languages through Duolingo. His work career includes being a Machinist, a CNC programmer, a business owner, a consultant and the Director of Organizational Development for a Fortune 100 company. All of this thanks to life-long learning.

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David Barker: Let’s make the Downtown and Lakeshore Precincts totally pedestrianized; that’s Lakeshore to Caroline and Martha to Locust.

opiniongreen 100x100By David Barker

December 6th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

What is the Vision for the Downtown?

The public’s vision for the Downtown is to provide for a walkable, accessible, vibrant downtown which is similar to that set out in Section 8.1.1 of the Adopted Official Plan.

Barker 2

Lakeshore and Brant Main precincts should be both walk-able and accessible. However I question the concept the Lakeshore precinct is currently a pedestrian precinct, it is far from that status currently.

However, the public’s vision also stresses the need to maintain and add new green spaces and trees, while providing additional space for year-round activities and festivals. The character of Brant Street as the ‘retail main street’ of Burlington with its eclectic mix of shops, meeting places and culture will be supported and enhanced. Lakeshore Road as the gateway to the waterfront will be maintained as an important pedestrian precinct to ensure the Downtown’s sense of place is preserved.

I noted the words “walkable”, “accessible” “additional space for year-round activities and festivals” are used.

I also noted the use of the following description “Lakeshore Road as the gateway to the waterfront will be maintained as an important pedestrian precinct to ensure the Downtown’s sense of place is preserved”.

Yes, the Lakeshore and Brant Main precincts should be both walkable and accessible. However I question the concept the Lakeshore precinct is currently a pedestrian precinct. It should be for sure. But it is far from that status currently.

I refer you to Page 36 of the consultant’s report where it states:-

Recently completed projects and those under construction such as Bridgewater and Saxony total an additional 335 units plus commercial and office space, which results in a further 2,068 persons and jobs. That’s a ratio of 6.17 people per unit.

Those projects that are approved but not yet built total an additional 732 units plus commercial space, which equals a further 1,225 people and jobs. That’s a ratio of 1.67 people per unit.

I don’t know why the ratios are so different.

Referring to the chart on Page 36 of the consultant’s report it shows for just the combined Lakeshore & Brant Main precincts between 1,350 units for concept 1 and 1,160 units for concept 2 should be anticipated.

At an average occupancy of 1.50 people per unit (my number) generates between 2,025 and 1,740 additional residents.

Then as per the same chart an additional jobs of between 495 and 610 for concepts 1 and 2 respectively will be created.

That’s a total of 2,520 and 2,350 additional people anticipated in the two precincts.

Those figures do not contemplate the increased congestion arising out of attracting people and traffic that the invigorated downtown will draw.

So my question is:-

How are we going to cope with all these additional people?

My intent tonight is not to pass judgement on Concept 1 or Concept 2.

To be honest whether it is decided to go for either of the two offered concepts, or another hybrid version, or another version altogether that results from the City being forced by outside forces to accept the tall buildings we are all fighting to prevent; we seem to be concentrating in isolation concerning ourselves as to what the “built form” will look like. How pretty will it be?

We do not seem to be giving what I believe should be simultaneous serious consideration as to how the City will deal with the issues that result from the reinvigoration of the downtown; issues such as traffic, parking, transit and other infrastructure.

These go hand in hand and must be developed simultaneously. Look at Toronto’s experience. It built and built and built, offices and condos and subdivisions, and totally ignored traffic, parking, transit and other infrastructure issues. All those items are now real headaches.

I have put forward to you all at a previous Planning and Development Committee meeting a suggestion that the City needs to be radical in its thoughts and approach to the future of the Downtown. These concepts offered by SGL are, in my view, just tinkering.

Barker 1

David Barker delegating before city council.

Going off at a bit of a tangent, I would like to touch upon some things that have been said by earlier delegates. Mr Bales of Carriage House has as a part of his delegation submitted a letter to Council whinging and whining that the City has not provided his company with background research it has developed through this long study process. He infers the development community is being excluded from the City’s engagement process and so cannot support the City’s decision, whatever that might be. I find Mr Bales to be completely ingenuous.

He and his company have provided presentations on its proposed downtown high rise developments at Lakeshore and Pearl, and between Lakeshore and Old Lakeshore. These proposals completely ignore not only the in-force zoning bylaws but also the very clearly articulated wishes of residents not to have 20+ story buildings forming a canyon along either Lakeshore Rd. or Brant St. At those presentations he talks about bring benefits to Burlington through these high rises, but will never address the problems that will result.

A number of earlier delegates have expressed the position that residents do not want to see change in the downtown area. No one likes change. But change has to come. The downtown needs changing. It is only “ticking over” it is not “really revving it up”. I believe residents are only seeing a discussion taking place about the height of new buildings. There is no vision being offered as to what the downtown will look like. Give people a clear vision of how everything will look after the change and I believe buy in will come.

Which brings me to my previously suggested vision of the Downtown and Lakeshore precincts.

Let’s make the Downtown and Lakeshore Precincts totally pedestrianized.

That’s Lakeshore to Caroline and Martha to Locust.

Obviously certain vehicular access must be allowed for residents, businesses as well as transit.

The City should offer low cost bus transit between the downtown and Mapleview Mall, Burlington Centre, the Fairview & Appleby GO stations, where free parking would be available.
This will link Spencer Smith to Brant St, push transient commuter traffic back on to the QEW, where it becomes the Provinces problem (as it should be). It will reinvigorate the downtown.

Brant street getting ready

Brant street being set up for the Sound of Music – Barker would like to see it traffic free year round.

Now I don’t wish to dwell on a sad event, but did anyone notice when watching news video of the knife attack that occurred in The Hague, Netherlands a week ago, that it happened right outside a Hudson Bay store, which is located in, yes you have guessed it, a pedestrian precinct.

I Googled “European Cities with pedestrian precincts” and got a list that included Vienna, Copenhagen, Prague, Zagreb, Cologne, Amsterdam, The Hague, Cambridge, Canterbury, York.

If these more populated Cities can make it work, then so can Burlington

As said earlier a pedestrian precinct in the Brant Main and Lakeshore precincts would bring the downtown and Spencer Smith Park together, it would allow for green spaces to be created and I am convinced reinvigorate our downtown.

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Tanner: Council has a choice to make, and very little time to make it.

opinionred 100x100By Roland Tanner

December 5th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

This is the delegation I gave at City Hall yesterday on behalf of ECoB. It is, in essence, already obsolete, which I believe is good news for residents. It is obsolete because Council informally signaled its clear intention to get the Official Plan Review process complete in March 2020, to lift the ICBL, and move on to doing everything in its power to take on the Urban Growth Centre, Mobility Hub and Major Transit Station Area (MTSA) designations which currently give additional powers to developers to build what they want.

This may still not be the Official Plan most residents want. In fact I’m sure it’s not. Because the city alone cannot insist on the OP residents want – yet. But if the city can persuade other levels of government to work with us, there is some hope that the clearly expressed preferences for residents for downtown Burlington can still be achieved. Nobody should pretend it will be easy. What residents have asked Council to do in reshaping and removing the downtown designations has never been done before, and there is no formal process to achieve it. But getting the revised OP back to Halton Region in March gives us our best chance of achieving those difficult objectives.

I am delegating today on behalf of Engaged Citizens of Burlington. Engaged Citizens of Burlington is a registered non-profit organisation with over 600 signed up supporters, a growing percentage of whom are paid members. We advocate on behalf of the proper recognition of residents’ preferred solutions in all municipal matters, in favour of a stronger role for residents’ voices generally, and in favour of the reform of the province’s relationship with municipal government.

Roland Tanner

Tanner on ECoB: We exist because the voices of residents have historically had a hard time being heard at City Hall over the last decade or so.

That’s the same phrase I’ve used to start the last three or four delegations I’ve made here. I say it because not everybody in the audience knows what ECoB is, and also to counter the criticism of ECoB made since its early days, and still made frequently on Twitter: namely, that we are a group of angry, unrepresentative and entitled NIMBY’s who represent nothing but selfishness.

We exist because the voices of residents have historically had a hard time being heard at City Hall over the last decade or so, and still need all the help they can get in working, hopefully collaboratively, with City Hall.

But that’s not the same thing as saying ‘what residents want to happen has to happen’. What residents want can only ‘happen’ if it’s legal. But Council can insist on Official Plan that’s ignores the wider planning context, if it wants. It has that right. I suspect that’s the subtext of today’s debate, rather than the two options actually on the table. Should council send these options back to staff for a third time and demand options that reflect what residents want? Or is there another approach that could work?

So I’m not going to do what once would have been expected from ECoB and shake my fist and say that the options presented by staff are an outrage that ignores residents. I’m also not here to capitulate and say this represents a reasonable compromise with the public vision for downtown and we simply have to put up with it. It’s not and we don’t. Downtown’s future should reflect the vision of Burlingtonians. Period. Nobody in this room should have a problem with that. The only question is, how do we get there?

I believe we have two options presented by staff which are a good faith attempt to do what they can to deliver a compromise between what residents want and what is defensible at LPAT. But those options were never going to be popular or reflect the entirety of what residents want. That was very clearly signalled by staff throughout this review. They feel it would be professionally unacceptable to draft a plan that’s inconsistent with the provincial framework.

Why do they believe this? Because of the Urban Growth Centre. That’s the root cause of this entire debate. Regardless of population targets and minimum densities and all the rest of it, while the Urban Growth Centre is in place downtown we are going to get proposals for highrises, and LPAT is going to approve them. That Urban Growth Centre was put in place with little or no consultation, and absolutely no foresight in 2007. The then director of planning was proud that Burlington was the first city in the GTHA to do so. In retrospect it seems like we were first because nobody on that council was paying attention. But that decision informs everything happening now. Everything comes back to the Urban Growth Centre.

So Council has a choice to make, and very little time to make it. The choice is – either, ONE, reject both these options and ask the planning staff for a third time to reconsider their proposals for downtown. Or, TWO, let these options go forward, acknowledging that this is not what residents want, and not what many feel they have the right to expect, but recognising that if we’re actually going to win this battle for a downtown residents like, it’s not going to be the OP that delivers it.

If Council asks staff to think again, if that’s being considered, what will happen? It will mean more delays, with no particular guarantee that staff will even then come back with options that anybody likes. And I presume it will mean the Interim Control Bylaw will be extended, possibly for up to another year. If that happens, my understanding is that council remains unable to address the Anchor Mobility Hub at the John St Bus shelter or the Urban Growth Centre. Everything that has a chance of definitively getting control of downtown remains on hold.

Plan b page 10

What Brant Street could look like.

Meanwhile development applications keep coming in. And they keep getting taller. And while the ICBL is in place the clock keeps ticking on applications, which means those applications are going straight to LPAT for non-response by council. Far from controlling the decisions on those developments, Council is handing them over to LPAT without trying to use the tools at its disposal to achieve moderation. Those developments are not coming back to you. LPAT will make the call. I freely admit that if I was sitting where you’re sitting I would have voted for the ICBL. I have no doubt. But right about now as I see developments being appealed to LPAT for non-response I’d be wondering if I’d made a mistake. I hope I’d have had the courage to change my mind rather than doubling down.

If in contrast Council takes these options and goes ahead with them as the basis for an imperfect OP for downtown, what will happen? The ICBL will be lifted. The city can, we believe, remove the Mobility Hub and leave central Burlington with one perfectly logical transit hub, taking one tool away from developers. The city can start making decisions on the developments coming before it, and residents need you to do that work. The city can begin lobbying the province for help with the Urban Growth Centre.

Tanner standing

Roland Tanner sees hope for the city.

Yes, we know it will not be easy, and there are numerous hurdles to achieving it. But council has something very powerful in its pocket – votes in a marginal riding. We live in a must-win riding for any provincial government, and the current government is on the wrong side of the biggest political issue in our city for this or many generations.

In that context who can say even this pro-development provincial government won’t be willing to listen?

This is EcoB’s position right now. Complete this process as soon as possible and get onto the policies which address where the real power lies. Residents ultimately don’t care about a perfect Official Plan. They care about their downtown, and they want to see a council that is doing everything in its power to address the the many things which are currently taking their downtown away from them.

And if, finally, the Urban Growth Centre can be addressed and placed where it makes sense – where Burlington’s transit already exists and growth is already being focused – could we not then return to the OP and revise it to reflect the new tools that the city holds?

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Don Fletcher once again explains to Council why Plan B is critical to saving what Burlington is.

News 100 redBy Staff

December 6th, 2019

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Don Fletcher stood before a Standing Committee to tell them about a Citizens Plan for the Waterfront Hotel site at the foot of Brant street that is already in talks with the city to re-develop the site.

The Planning department had put out their proposed Concept 2 for the site.  The creation of that proposal is what brought the Plan B into existence; they knew something much better was possible.

Plan B page 3

The city Planning department called it the emerging preferred concept 2

On November 28th, 2017 an alternate building design featuring:

i. Extension of Spencer Smith Park
ii. Enhancement of Brant Street gateway to Lake Ontario

was put forward.

One June 5th, 2018 another Fletcher delegation resulted in amendment to key policy direction to “define & consider a building setback from the Thin Red Line”

Plan b page 4

That thin red line would ensure that there would always be a clear view of the lake from Brant Street.

The Citizens’ PLAN B remains committed to process, continuing dialogue with all stakeholders.

The Thin Red Line at NE Corner of Lakeshore & Brant is meant to ensure that there are no building West/ Southwest of Thin Red Line.

Fletcher explained to Council why the PLAN B folks were once again before Council.

– Two precincts, the Brant Main Street and the Lakeshore Mixed Use border on Waterfront Hotel property and Spencer Smith Park.

– That is a concern because changes to the adopted OP for downtown and the intensification designations will impact the application and approval of the Waterfront Hotel redevelopment

The participation that Fletcher saw at the Citizen Action Labs sessions caused the Plan B people additional concern about the process

The Re-examination of Adopted OP Process has a number of assumptions including key designations remaining unchanged.

– John Street bus terminal = Mobility Hub/ Major Transit Station Area

– Downtown Burlington = Urban Growth Center

• Both Concepts 1 & 2 seem designed to meet same intensification goals as former Adopted OP – LPAT defensible.

– Tall buildings permitted in Lakeshore Mixed Use Concept 1 at both NE corner w/Brant & NW corner w/Locust transition poorly to neighbouring precincts, but yield higher density

– Podium setback in Lakeshore Mixed Use Concept 2 of only 3m is to compensate for lower density of mid rise building

Fletcher believes that the electorate voted on Oct. 22nd, 2018 for fundamental change to intensification levels and the enforceability of Official Plan.

He concludes that key OP policies should to:

– Preserve connections & views to the waterfront
– House mid to low-rise buildings downtown with taller ones toward Fairview
– Maintain small town character and preserve heritage
– Reflect the community’s vision for the area

Fletcher argued that many attendees at Citizen Action Labs viewed Concepts 1 & 2 as different versions of same over-development and added that a different result from the 2018 Adopted OP demands a different approach.

Fletcher is concerned that Proceeding Solely As-Is is a mistake.

An Official Plan recommendation, potentially uninformed by the City’s Land Use Study (This is the work being done while the Interim Control bylaw is in place) was not in his opinion a smart thing to do. The land use study is not due until early March.

– Should the Mobility Hub/ Major Transit Station Area (MTSA) or Urban Growth Center designation remains they will permit the over development of the downtown which residents dislike and voted against.

This allowd for continued grounds for LPAT appeals by developers to plan/ negotiate ever greater heights. That would mean a return to “business as usual”, supported by developer-friendly Bill 108, once ICBL moratorium expires

Plan b page 10

This is the Brant Street view looking south to the lake that the Plan B people want to ensure does not happen.

Citizens’ PLAN B proposes that the city continue to refine recommended Concept (1+2)

• Create an alternate What-if Concept to support growth downtown, without Mobility Hub/ MTSA and Urban Growth Center designations

• Accelerate Land Use Study & publish

• Aggressively lobby Region/ Province to change MTSA & Urban Growth Center designations, to establish viability

• Seek public feedback (January-February)

• Present both options to Council in March

• Decide and submit OP for approval to the Region of Halton, dependent upon finalizing designations for downtown

Burlington’s Downtown is at a turning point.

Related news stories:

The first look at Plan B.

Send the Plan back.

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