Doug Ford: He just might be trainable.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

May 2nd, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Well that didn’t take very long.

After a couple of videos that had Doug Ford, who is running for the office of Premier of Ontario, explaining to unidentified groups what he was prepared to do with Greenbelt lands – the public reaction was close to fierce.

Within a day he back tracked – and that idea was off the table.

Ford scowl - cropped

Doug Ford – running for the Office of Premier. Learned to back track on his Greenbelt ideas.

He appears to be trainable and needs to be watched.

The Ford comments did flush out of the bushes a couple of the local developers with their view that they looked forward to building affordable housing in the Greenbelt.

The Greenbelt in rural Burlington is not the place where affordable housing is going to be built. Affordable housing has to be close to transit.

Halton Region doesn’t have a coherent affordable housing policy. The city of Burlington isn’t in the affordable housing business – that is a Regional responsibility.

The Region is at least half a decade behind creating the much needed affordable housing policy and working with the four municipalities that make up the Region.

Our Regional Councillors will do almost anything for a photo-op; this time they are showing you the new 2 gallon blue boxes.

Regional Council does photo-ops very well. Not doing quite as well with the development of an Affordable Housing policy.

A lot of work to be done on this file. Burlington’s current crop of politicians need to press the Region to come up with a policy – taking some ideas to the Region wouldn’t hurt but that isn’t going get done by those in office today.

The city is now into full election mode – citizens want to watch and listen carefully to what those seeking your vote have to say.

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ECoB points out that 'informing is not engagement' and urges citizens to elect the city council they deserve..

News 100 redBy Jim Young, Chair – EcoB

April 29th. 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

It is said that “In a democracy, people get the kind of government they deserve”. We believe Burlington deserves better than this.

On Thursday, ignoring the highest number of delegations in its history and some of the best detailed critiques by citizens from every corner of the city and rural areas; Burlington City Council passed its contentious new Official Plan (OP).

421 Brant

Directly opposite city hall on the north side of James street – 23 storey tower, with a proposed tower to the south. Height for that tower – yet to be determined.

While opposition focused on the downtown, widely viewed as belonging to everyone, there was equal concern about over intensification in individual residential communities. The plan, seven years in the making, was seen by most as too developer friendly, too much in thrall to the province and the region and too often dismissive of local concerns.

Transit terminal - John Street

A bus terminal and ticket vending site that was once going to be closed got upgraded to mobility hub.

Putting aside the fears of over intensification in the downtown, the failure to consider more balanced approaches to intensification, the fact that Burlington is already meeting its intensification goals and the ridiculous notion that the John St. bus stop is a “Downtown Mobility Hub”, then the missing details like the definitions of site specific height limits for some precincts, particularly around the Mobility Hubs and the absence of supporting Transit and Parking plans; the greatest point of contention was always the feeling that citizen input was ignored.

Crowd

A packed public meeting at city hall

The city claims that engagement on the OP was above and beyond but who gets to define “Real Engagement”? In a seven year planning process the city only started to hold information sessions in late 2017 in the unseemly rush to make the downtown a Mobility Hub and therefore an Urban Growth Centre. Only after citizen anger brought ECoB (Engaged Citizens of Burlington) into being did the city even start to pay attention. ECoB position is that this was always too little, too late and that informing is not engagement.

Numerous meetings with Planning and Communication staff failed to move them on the major issues of importance to citizens. Councillors Craven, Taylor, Dennison and Lancaster declined to discuss the OP or the process. The Mayor and Councillor Sharman met with us but had difficulty accepting any vision of engagement other than the staff line that “Information is Engagement”. Only Councillor Meed Ward encouraged greater citizen engagement and her motions at council reflected this.

Rick Craven

Councillor Rick Craven – wasn’t available to meet with ECoB

John Taylor - hand up

Councillor John Taylor wasn’t available to meet with ECoB

Ward 4 Councillor Jack Dennison always has an eye open for an economic opportunity - sees a great one for the city: sell the golf course.

Councillor Jack Dennison wasn’t able to meet with ECoB

Lancaster on bullying

Councillor Blair Lancaster wasn’t able to meet with ECoB

In the final analysis this is another bad plan finalized much too quickly after 7 years of stagnating on staff desks, in an attempt to prevent it from becoming an election issue. It will still be too easy for developers to get sidestepping amendments and it may even favour developers at the newly created Land Planning xxx Tribunal (LPAT) more than the old OP if that had remained in place. Burlington will continue to evolve with much needed resident input. Make this an election issue, change can happen with a new Council.

Perhaps the most disappointing aspect of this, too often, rancorous debate was the self-congratulatory back slapping and high fiving by council on Thursday when they finally approved the new Official Plan. It felt like a council gloating on a victory over its citizens.

Although Council adopted this Official Plan, it requires Regional approval. Staff will be pushing their plan through the Region with additional amendments and the studies that have yet to be completed. Residents will still have the opportunity to demand changes. Until the Region accepts this OP the current OP remains in effect.

ballot box

October 22nd is municipal election day in Burlington

A new Council can overturn this Official Plan and residents get to choose who fills those council positions in the coming election. You can support candidates of your choice, who reflect your views and work to get them elected in October.

If “The purpose of debate is not to win but to make progress,” then ECoB will continue to seek progress from this debate. If any good is to come from this, it should be in the form of improved citizen engagement; despite the city’s claims, there is much room for improvement.

ECoB will explore all options, and continue to reach out to City Council, Communication and Management Staff. A start point for that outreach might well be the long ignored 2011 council report “Shape Burlington”, which uncannily predicts the present citizen engagement issues.

Shape Burlington Report.

 

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Was it legal? They think it is and no one is going to challenge them on the matter.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

April 29th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

I’m reading about the vote on the OP; was the Special meeting of Council made known to the public?; asked a loyal Gazette reader.

Well it was and it wasn’t made known to the public that a public meeting was to take place? Could it be null and void? asked our reader.

Probably not.

Here is what happened. Our source is ward 2 Councillor Marianne Meed Ward and the procedural bylaw.
Meed Ward advises that: “The process to set a special council meeting is to poll council members. This was done weeks ago electronically by e-vote; I did not support it but enough of council did.

“The special council meeting was duly scheduled and advertised as being “immediately after the committee meeting” – so no clear start time.

“As it turned out, committee extended to Thursday morning – that hadn’t been scheduled, just the Wednesday session. Then the special council meeting was to follow.

“So, residents didn’t know about either the committee meeting extending to Thursday or the special council afterward unless they were in attendance or watching the live feed (the video of the meetings is not posted till a day or two later).

Meed Ward H&S

Councillor Meed Ward – did not support holding a Special Meeting of Council immediately after a Standing Committee meeting.

Meed Ward said she “ didn’t have the Thursday extended committee meeting time booked in my calendar. It was scheduled late afternoon on Wednesday.”

“Technically, one could argue the process to call the special council meeting was followed, but it left the public shut out.

Meed Ward said she “ tried to bring a motion to council to refer the council meeting to Monday, a scheduled committee meeting time, but could not get a seconder in advance to put it on the floor.”
Mayor Goldring always make a point of telling the watching audience how many hours each Standing Committee spent and he explains how many bylaws were passed.

On a critical thing like public engagement on the most important piece of legislation this council has passed (technically all they did was approve it) the public was shut out.  Deliberately?

It would have been a small matter for anyone with a real sense democracy to have explained to the audience that was in council chambers and those watching the web cast that a motion to waive the required time between the calling of a council meeting and the holding of that meeting had been waived. It was done electronically directly between the Mayor and the members of council – the public didn’t get to see the vote take place.

Not sure how legal that is – matters not; there isn’t a lawyer in town prepared to hustle up to the County Court and ask for a ruling.

Comm-Eng-June-12-Mayor-bored-835x1024

Mayor Goldring at a community engagement meeting.

As for the Mayor and that Special Council meeting – he was too busy handing out proclamations – some of those who were to be given their proclamation didn’t bother to show up.

Let’s see what the readers think.

Meed War’s closing comment on this was: “Not a great day for democracy. Calling out the small number of residents in attendance that morning added insult to injury. If this had been held at the regular council meeting in May, or even at the scheduled committee meeting on Monday, April 30 residents would have filled the room and the podium – because they would have known it was coming and could plan to be there.”

Crowd

Mayor Goldring handed out Proclamations during a council meeting with a packed council chamber c

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Dennison comments on the approved Official Plan

News 100 blueBy Jack Dennison, Ward 4 Councillor

April 28th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

Burlington city council heaved a sigh of relief Thursday afternoon and approved an Official Plan. The 400 page document now goes to Regional Council where it will be debated again, perhaps revised and sent back to Burlington.  The Gazette has asked each member of council for a copy of the remarks they made after the Official Plan had been approved. Comments made by Jack Dennison, ward 4  council member. are set out below.

I recognize the desperate need to get our new Official Plan approved so that we are more in line with the Provincial Policy statements on growth and intensification. Our current Official Plan and Zoning By-laws are out of line with those Provincial plans. We the city should be able to successfully defend our new official plan heights and densities, where we were unsuccessful with 374 Martha/ADI/Nautique.

wefrt

Councillor Jack Dennison at a Strategic Planing meeting at LaSalle Park.

That said, I still have difficulty with the proposed Official Plan where entire city blocks downtown have an Official Plan height of 17 storeys or less. Every property owner thinks their property can be developed to that height without consideration for variety of heights.

To solve this problem, we have to be site specific for tall buildings and shorter variety heights. This would allow movement within the blocks to create variety.

We need to:

• In the Downtown Core Precinct, identify that not every site will be suitable to accommodate a tall building and that design guidelines and the Zoning By-law will establish the minimum criteria which may accommodate different forms of buildings.

• Incorporate an effective transition between development within the Upper Brant Precinct and adjacent low density residential.

• Develop policies that will ensure that the conservation of existing heritage buildings is a priority by retaining heritage buildings on site; and ensuring new development must be compatible with adjacent cultural heritage resources.

• Consider implementing a phasing plan for development which could have significant adverse impact on the downtown infrastructure including the road network affecting motorists and/or pedestrians.

• And earlier we modified the 17 storeys to 12 storeys up to 17 based on additional public parking and employment spaces in the Downtown area, and increased the setback between tall buildings to 30 metres, and we do still have area specific plans and zoning bylaws through which we can continue to shape our community including our downtown.

Further, I want the OP and zoning bylaws to be in lock step and we aggressively defend the new OP and Zoning.

We do not want walls of buildings on our primary roads, Lakeshore, Brant and throughout our downtown.

Dennison announcing

Jack Dennison the day he announced the sale of Cedar Springs.

But as I already said, I feel I have no choice but to support the approval of the proposed Official Plan which has been substantially modified through the excellent input from many constituents, including ECOB as well as the Council and staff as a team with the residents – This has been a 7 year process that we had to complete. Thank you to staff for their willingness to listen and amend where they could. We are #1 and we will continue to be #1.

I totally disagree with the east side of Brant Street north of Blairholm Avenue having heights of 7 – 25 storeys, immediately adjacent to single-family residential.

The west side of north Brant is proposed at 10-25 storeys but at least has a 3-storey podium next to Brant: with review in 10 years re: additional capacity to add more tall buildings.

Dennison graph on OP

 

39 proposed by OP team is more than 4 times present and approved.

26 proposed by Jack is less than 3 times present and approved.

Further I want the OP and zoning bylaws to be in lock step and we aggressively defend the new OP and Zoning.

The specific blocks I take issue with include:

1. Gore Variety: instead of 17, 6 and 3 ; have 6, 8 and 3.

2. 421 Brant Street North to Birch Avenue: instead of 3,6,8 and 11 ; have a variety of 3, 6, 8 and 11 with only every second block having an 11-storey building.

409 Brant image

Revenue Properties proposal for the former Elizabeth Interiors location.

3. 409 Brant Street (Elizabeth Interiors): instead of 3 to 17, have a maximum of 3 to 14 storeys and certainly not 24 storeys.

4. Esso Station at Locust and Lakeshore Road: specify 17 storeys at the back by the Parking Garage and 3 storeys at Lakeshore Road.

5. Modify the block at the northwest corner of James and Elizabeth have a maximum height of 8 storeys like City Hall, not 17 storeys.

6. Modify the block on the south side of Caroline Street between Brant and Locust to have a podium of 3 storeys and not exceed 6 storeys instead of 11 storeys.

John - No frills - laneway

No Frills Plaza

7. Modify No Frills plaza to have a maximum height of 14 storeys, not 17, and the Brant Street building to not exceed 4 storeys instead of 6.

8. Modify the Leggat property to have a maximum height of 14 storeys, not 17, and a maximum at Brant Street of 4 storeys, not 6.

We do not want walls of building on our primary roads, Lakeshore, Brant and throughout our downtown.

But as I already said, I have no choice but to support the approval of the proposed Official Plan.

Dennison closed his comments with the observation that there were only four members of the public in the Council chamber.  That was because for the most part the public did not know exactly when the special meeting of Council was to take place.

 

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Lancaster's comment on the approval of the Official Plan

News 100 blueBy Blair Lancaster

April 28th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

Burlington city council heaved a sigh of relief Thursday afternoon and approved an Official Plan. The 400 page document now goes to Regional Council where it will be debated again, perhaps revised and sent back to Burlington.  The Gazette has asked each member of council for a copy of the remarks they made after the Official Plan had been approved. Comments made by Blair Lancaster for Ward 6 are set out below.

The Official Plan will lead our City into a time of prosperity, sustainability and affordability while ensuring our city will continue on its current healthy, vibrant and livable path.

Councillor Blair Lancaster" not a big fan of public meetings.

Councillor Blair Lancaster

In fact, this plan will create over 3,500 jobs, which is important to residents of Burlington. The majority of this growth will occur around mobility hubs and in the downtown. It also addresses the fact that over the next decade, we will be receiving over 1,800 residents per year (most of them being new immigrants). This plan also looks to address the challenges of future generations, the millennial and their families.

This being said, different points of view have caused significant changes to the Official Plan as residents and stakeholders asked some very difficult questions. This caused us to pause and re-think the plan at every stage. I want to thank the residents and stakeholders who also have invested countless number of hours into the process.

The community engagement on this plan has been unprecedented reaching every ward. I want to congratulate our professional staff team who have stick handled all of the input from residents, council, and stakeholders. I shutter to think of the number of hours that we have all dedicated to this important initiative. It has touched every department from planning, legal, transportation, clerks, recreation, capital works, and more.

This plan was not only informed by residents and stakeholders but also by many other plans that we are legally required to conform to, such as The Niagara Escarpment Plan, The Green Belt Plan, Places to Grow, and new Provincial Policies. The existing Official Plan was out-of-date and does not comply with new provincial legislation and therefore was not defensible.

Blair Lancaster brings a soft approach to Council. Doesn't speak nearly as much as the other members. To early to tell if she is effective as the constituent level.

Councillor Blair Lancaster

The Official Plan document is a high level document that uses blobs on a map to indicate what might be possible. I emphasize what MIGHT be possible because we have just established a vision and now the work will begin to define more closely what is possible and what will be compatible on each site. The exciting part is that the work has just begun, as we now move into more detailed plans that will address important issues, like a housing strategy, and transportation plans.

Additionally, the plan we have just adopted at Council must be approved by the Region of Halton before it will be in effect. This will take approximately 210 days. The approval process is not automatic and City of Burlington Council must prepare a strategy to fight for many of the changes that are outlined in the new Official Plan.

The changes in this plan represent leading practices that look into the future and the fact that our economic development plan, strategic plan, and the new Official Plan all work together establishing a future that embodies affordable, sustainable and slow growth. Looking into the future takes leadership and a willingness to make decisions that are good for the long term even though they maybe disruptive today. This plan is bold but rational, and most importantly defensible.

www.burlington.ca/newop

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Rivers: what role will education play in the provincial election? Think about the graduation rates.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

April 27th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Liberals have been in power now for a decade and half, even though Kathleen Wynne has been premier for less than half that time. But people are saying it’s time to change, time for a change. They’re tired of the Liberals.

Doug Ford

Doug Ford

Doesn’t everything need to change at some point – it all eventually gets old and tired and needs to be replaced. It’s called transition and life – it’s normal, right? ‘Choose Change’ was the slogan Dalton McGuinty used when he whomped the tired old Ernie Eves Tories back in 2003 with an impressive 46% of the popular vote. That is the ballpark that Mr. Ford now finds himself in as he prepares to take over the reins of Ontario’s provincial government – the pre-emptive premier.

And there are so many reasons to give Premier Wynne the boot. Take education. Did you know that not every student who enters into secondary school graduates from it. Only 86.5 % of adolescents end up with a school leaving certificate in this province. Places like Ukraine actually score over 100% on some of their graduation statistics, though that may just be old Soviet-style statistics still at play.

86%Of course 86% is better than 69% , which was the graduation rate Ontario used to be so proud of back in the days when Mike Harris was in power. But a lot of things have changed. Ontario now has an early education program with universal junior kindergarten, so those little rug-rats can get into the learning mode earlier – something which will benefit them later in life all the experts agree. Although it’s a bit of a stretch to credit our improved graduation rate entirely to the relatively few early educated represented in this statistic.

xxx

Early education

Early education – for two-and-a-half year olds will mean a sea change to the notion of day care and child minding.

The latest Liberal budget would see children as young as two and a half be eligible for free, presumably, Montessori-style early education. Free early education for two-and-a-half year olds will mean a sea change to the notion of day care and child minding. Even the early educators themselves will need to be better educated. A big bonus is the extra pocket money saved by working moms and dads struggling to keep their financial heads above water.

Labour peace may also be a factor that has influenced this double digit climb in graduation from Ontario’s high schools. The last major teacher strike was back in 1997. It’s possible that happy teachers make better teachers and more motivated students. And it’s also possible that the stress of labour-government infighting took its toll on the desire of students to stay in school back then. After all, if your government has no respect for teachers…well… And Mike Harris and ‘create-a-crisis’ John Snobelen, having dropped out of university and high school respectively, may not have been the best role models in those dark days of the nineties.

Perhaps tuition-free university for those in financial need also has had an impact. Students who may have once thought…”what’s the point of finishing school, I can’t afford to go on to higher education anyway”… may have found new motivation to succeed. Apparently 235,000 students have benefited from free higher education, including 10,000 single mothers.

86.5% is just above the Canadian average in high school graduation rates, with only Nova Scotia and PEI slightly ahead of Ontario. Those provinces are also governed by Liberals, but then so is Quebec which is quite a way down the list. The gospel is that an improvement in Ontario’s education outcomes will lead to a more productive economy and more prosperous population. That will be critical as the province faces its future.

sex edThere has been a lot of talk about removing sex-education from the elementary school curriculum. It takes time away from other topics, like Lego or computers. Shouldn’t it be left to the parents to talk about something so sensitive? And hadn’t these children’s parents eventually figured it out on their own anyway, one way or the other. After all, it’s as natural as having a healthy diet and getting plenty of exercise. Your body will tell you what to do – right?

Sexual relationships are one of the most significant aspects of a young teenager’s development. So will getting the basics right help students better get on with/over with sex and leave more time and effort for concentration on their studies? The issue is a muddy pool teeming with education psychologists and the religious moralists each eating the other for lunch.

But teen pregnancies, which can increase school drop out rates, are on the rise in Canada and there is still inconclusive evidence that early sex-ed alone mitigates that effect – despite the logic of it all. Economics and economic opportunities seem to play a larger role in this matter, and fortunately for any new government today’s Ontario’s economy is booming. But perhaps even more importantly, young people, who don’t usually have a lot of pocket money, are now entitled to free pharmacare, so at least they can afford prevention.

We desire higher grad rates because that should deliver a more productive economy and a more prosperous society. And a better educated population should be expected to make better decisions, especially when it comes to election issues and elections. Many of those new grads will be eligible to vote or at least in a position to influence how their friends and family vote. And that may help determine whether there is a new Ford government which will have the choice of lifting the province’s grad rate closer to 100%, or letting it fall back towards the 68% the last time the Tories were in power.

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.     Tweet @rayzrivers

 

Background links:

High School Graduation –    Teacher Strikes –    Disparity in Grad RatesTeen Pregnancies

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The new Official Plan, without Transit and Transportation Plans will only be a shell of a document .

opinionandcommentBy Gary Scobie

April 25th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

I want to apologize for some wrong information I presented earlier to Council. I stated that both Downtown Burlington and the Burlington GO Station were Urban Growth Centres assigned by the Province.

I have been corrected by Planning staff and I thank them for this. Only the Downtown has an Urban Growth Centre designation, much like downtowns in other cities. Oakville did move their Growth Centre to the Mid-town Trafalgar GO Station.

We need to do the same in Burlington.

There is a rush to replace our Official Plan with a new one. There is also the feeling that the new Local Planning Appeal Tribunal, or LPAT, along with a new OP will help us gain control of our downtown redevelopment. Unfortunately this is not the case.

Gary Scobie

Gary Scobie

Developers are opportunistic. They see a current situation of a very flexible and malleable OP along with the protection of Urban Growth Centre and Mobility Hub designations for the downtown as guaranteeing the height they want to build over many blocks of the downtown. They are absolutely correct in their assessment.

The designations provide no height limits whatsoever on buildings.

They provide minimum resident and job standards only, which the developers capitalize on with their arguments for continued height growth and proliferation of tall buildings downtown, against resident wishes.

The new Official Plan, without Transit and Transportation Plans will only be a shell of a document when it comes to protecting the downtown from over-intensification. Packing many people in a small geographic area of Burlington without a way for them to better move to the GO Station will not solve any problem of the downtown, only worsen the congestion problem.

The ideas of many precincts in the new Official Plan, each hand-picked for certain heights is the gift to developers that just keeps on giving. Developers know that their one-off projects in one location each time only need justification for that certain location.

The City must defend every precinct they have set up with complete, detailed proper justifications unique for each one. These they do not have. Developers need only point to the Urban Growth Centre and Mobility Hub minimum growth targets and other nearby buildings already approved or constructed, even in neighbouring precincts, as justification for height beyond what the City wants. The City will get no help from the Province in defending their new Official Plan as long as the twin designations

loom above us, just as the twin gateway buildings will soon loom above us at the James and Brant corner.

werv

A bus terminal has grown to become a Mobility hub.

We are currently stuck with a pretend Mobility Hub in the Downtown. We have a Council that says it cares about the downtown redevelopment, yet approves inappropriate height on Brant Street and cannot present a valid case to the OMB to stop inappropriate height on Lakeshore Road. The over-arching demand of high density through proliferation of high buildings in the downtown is guaranteed to continue as long the Province has the hammer over our heads. Everything we do downtown in the future is governed by these intensification demands placed by the Province through the twin designations. The LPAT rules acknowledge this and the multi-precinct approach in the new Official Plan will lead to undefendable reasoning against the
precedents already set and the lack of justifications to stop tall buildings where developers desire them.

Urban growth centre boundary

Urban Growth Centre boundary

We have only one defence available to regain control of our downtown for sensible, controllable growth. That is to petition the Province to remove the Mobility Hub designation from the Downtown and to move the Urban Growth Centre designation from the Downtown to the Burlington GO Station.

You can’t do that effectively if you are passing a shell of a new Official Plan at the same time. You need to at least keep the current Official Plan in place as an example of our attempt to manage growth downtown in a gentler manner while you argue our case to the Province for removing the high intensification rules from the downtown.

Will you show the citizens in this meaningful way that you do care about our downtown and what it is to become and set this new Official Plan aside while you pursue a better avenue to protect our downtown from the over-intensification that is currently heading toward us like a freight train that will come off the rails?

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David McKay: Time to approve it and get on with the business of doing as much as we can to make it work .

opinionandcommentBy David McKay

April 25th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

David McKay taught science to many of the people who help run the city.  Now retired from classrooms – he appeared before city council to put some of the city’s history in perspective.

I appreciate you taking yet another round of delegations on this matter. My comments will be
made from the perspective of someone who has been involved as a citizen with planning issues
in Burlington for some fifteen years, as a member of city advisory committees, community groups and as an individual. I have followed and on occasion participated in the development of this plan for seven years as it followed a windy and sometimes unpredictable road.

One cannot of course, comment on the entire plan, and I shall confine my remarks to three aspects:

Official-Plan-Binder_ImageFirst, I must commend council and staff for realizing and accepting that so much had happened and was happening since the completion of the previous plan that amendments alone would not suffice, and for having the courage and commitment to build an entirely new plan.

The process of developing this ambitious document included an extensive amount of citizen
engagement with numerous public meetings on various aspects of the plan and finally on the
document as a whole; with frequent opportunities to appear before committee or council.

While some of these events were not entirely amicable, there was opportunity to comment
or suggest and these meetings did result in alterations to the final plan. The amount of time
given to the engagement process and numerous revisions and rewrites of parts of the plan
were much greater that had occurred during the development of previous plans.

Secondly I would comment on a specific part of the new plan which is indicative of a realization that our City is big enough and varied enough that different areas need different treatment in a City Wide Planning Document. My community was involved in the “Neighbourhood Character Study” which resulted in specific planning requirements and control by-laws for particular communities with a particular history and particular needs. This was achieved through an extensive consultative process between city staff , neighbourhood associations, outside consultants and individual residents. The process was lengthy, challenging, and at times frustrating but in the end it brought positive results for all parties involved. There are other areas of the plan which reflect this type of community based planning.

Finally I wish to give “my take” on a portion of the plan which has been the focus of much of the recent discussions – The Downtown Transportation Hub. To fully evaluate this part of the Official Plan it is necessary to know and understand how we got to where we are at present.

It began, really, with the Provincial Greenbelt Plan, developed in the middle of the previous decade by a Group headed by our then mayor, Rob McIsaac. This plan, while needed and beneficial in its curbing of urban sprawl, had a profound and immediate effect on our City as virtually all of its undeveloped land (about 50% of our area) became part of the Greenbelt or the Niagara Escarpment Lands and Alton became our last subdivision.

Click to view report

Then of course came “Places to Grow” – a detailed outlining of where the millions of new residents of the “Greater Golden Horseshoe” were to be accommodated over the next 20 years. Municipalities were not given any say in this allotment, and Burlington received its quota of new residents to be accommodated; and this would be need to be through “infill”.

In addition, the municipality had to establish a “designated growth area” where the number of jobs and residents per hectare would be the highest. Burlington chose to designate its downtown as this growth area. Here, Mr. Chair, is exhibit A from an event held almost 10 years ago. The Mayor’s Downtown Summit was a daylong event that brought together council, staff, invited speakers and interested citizens to talk about how the requirements of the designated area could be met within a downtown area of limited size, surrounded on three sides by residential communities. One conclusion at least was clear – growth would be vertical, not horizontal as is true in the core of any City. The questions were how high and how often.

The implementation of Places to Grow went relatively smoothly for some years – high rise buildings were erected on the north side of Lakeshore, with one now being built on the south. Existing high rises on Elgin and Ontario were joined by the Strata on Maple and another high rise on Brock and the Berkeley on John St. is now well underway. In the main the heights of these buildings were peacefully negotiated and put the city well on the way meeting its targets.

Two recent events have created challenges for the City and suddenly made citizens aware of just how much growth others would like to thrust upon us. First the direct appeal to the OMB of the proposed building at Martha and Lakeshore where a height far beyond that planned by the city was requested; and to the astonishment and dismay of almost all of us it was granted. Clearly the OMB continues to worship at the Altar of the Provincial Policy statement, whose nautique-elevation-from-city-july-2016mantra is “Intensification above all”. Second, the deadline for OMB referrals to be heard under the ‘old’ system brought forward a raft of applications by companies, some of whom did not have a clear idea of just what they were going to do, but didn’t want to deal with the new system. Visualizing all that infill in an around our core is quite unsettling.

So what to do? Certainly the growth that has taken place and will take place in the core is significant and will change the tenor and tone of our downtown streetscape. We do not need all the proposed structures to meet the Places to Grow requirements; indeed there are not enough prospective downtown condominium owners to fill them all if they were to be built.

Burlington did not ask for the Federal Government to add four million immigrants to the Greater Golden Horseshoe area; Burlington did not ask for growth quotas: Burlington did not ask for an unending supply of developers with deep pockets who all think that they can make a good profit out from yet another condo tower; Burlington did not ask for an outside arbitrator who seems wedded to intensification regardless….But that’s what we got.

We are seven years into formulation of this plan and have included as much input from as many people as possible. There are no clear alternatives to its proposed directions. It is time to approve it and get on with the business of doing as much as we can to make it work .

 

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ECoB - We need to call a truce. We have tried everything possible to bring a sense of balance, to bring a better vision, to bring a complete plan and we are exhausted.

opinionandcommentBy Lisa Kearns

April 25th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Engaged Citizens of Burlington (ECoB) is a not for profit group working towards a better Burlington for generations to come.

Kearns direct smile

Lisa Kearns – part of the ECoB leadership team. Is there more than ECoB in her future?

Working within the civic process, we are particularly concerned with issues of planning and development. The group is energized to bring voices and action to challenges that will affect the quality of life today and in the future, we are advocates for good planning across the entire City.

In the months from inception, ECoB has held an open meeting, a rally, a municipal elections workshop, hand delivered thousands of flyers, displayed hundreds of lawn signs, received press, appeared on community television and radio, grown our social media base, inspired a record number of delegations, met with provincial and municipal elected officials, city planning, business owners, developers and most importantly residents.

We have reflected on our position on the matters contained in the Draft Official Plan and truly reflect to objectively determine if we are the outliers, to see if were the radicals, to see if there was any truth to the tactics used to silence us. And here’s the thing, we are not. What we are – are concerned residents and now we are engaged.

From fragmented pockets across the city have woven together to tell the same story – we are not against growth – we are against excessive intensification and loss of community. The same Provincial Policy Statements are used in every development justification report and the same committee and council allow the most obtuse interpretation of these guidelines to promote efficient land use and development patterns. The same policies that govern Toronto and Mississauga have only one safety net in place and that is our Municipal Official Plan. That is why today is so important.

In previous delegations, residents and ECoB have set out specific areas for reconsideration. We asked to have the bar set higher – in the spirit of vibrancy to increase the uses in the Brant Main Precinct, we were successful in receiving a “should” contain three uses in the three storey podiums that extinguish our unique downtown retail. We talked about employment land designations and the ability to keep the door open for future considerations, we saw uproar that ensued from our agricultural friends.

Kearns at podium

Kearns at the podium during the ECoB candidates meeting.

We know you are aware there is a deficiency here and that is why the City has actively taken steps to ignore and deduce the consistent wave of pushing into this process.

The number of drafts that have come out, the inability to build a model that neighbourhood kids could complete, the inadvertent scheduling conflicts, the refusal to meet by some Councillors, the letter from the City Manager to silence instead of collaborate, thrown out petitions, NIMBY lawn signs in every ward, minutes of grow bold videos that hardly scratch the surface #growbold, #goodplanningmatters, and the most stinging “just because you don’t like it doesn’t mean it isn’t good planning”.

Right down to the special meeting of Council scheduled directly after this Committee meeting – how is anything from the 30+ delegations today going to receive due process and influence the vote tomorrow?

And aren’t quite done. There is still the Transit Plan, the Transportation Plan, the Mobility Hub Plan, the secondary phase of the Downtown Area Specific Plan. The challenges are still ahead and if we cannot all be on the same page with the most important City document, we most certainly will be challenged in the phases that shape our future.

Here’s the thing, planning is suggestive and without doubt a challenging task and profession. While we know that we’ve been a pain we also want you to know that we do respect the work that has been done and hope that if anything, this pressure will give you more support to create a plan that is built exclusively for our great city.

We need to call a truce.

ECoB Dec 13 #2

ECoB’s first large community meeting – they had traction and a following.

We are not against growth, we are not against change. But we are against it done poorly, done in a way that contravenes protection of established neighbourhoods, a way that cannot audit the 5% growth, cannot protect our own green space, and in a way that will ebb and flow as supporting plans come forward. We have asked for a complete vision and are no where close.

We are asking for help because it is not Ok to extend permissions for 18+ stories abutting low density residential, it is not Ok to allow in-congruent infill, it is not Ok to allow hundreds of town homes that double the density permissions, it is not Ok to push residents in Alton village, Pinedale, Bluewater/ Avondale, Dynes, Aldershot and more to the very edge – where the only option is seeking relief from the municipal tribunal.

It is not Ok to leave every resident wondering when they are going to have to become experts in the planning process that they have entrusted to those before us. Let’s make sure that the balance in in our favour now.

The province has mandated growth, we recognize that there needs to be growth, but is it councils responsibility to protect community. The question is does any of this document actually enforce a successful and complete community. We need the Committee to insist that amenities are included not just residential. It is about quality of life and not quantity of people. We seem to be more focused on getting people out of the city instead of keeping people in the city – embedded into their communities through a live, work and play approach.

We have tried everything possible to bring a sense of balance, to bring a better vision, to bring a complete plan and we are exhausted. We have asked, does the city want to fight with the residents or against the residents, only you can decide with the vote today.

And so, with the last chance to address this Draft Official Plan today we ask you to let down your guard, let us in, and really hear your residents. We continually hear Staff ask – “is this plan defensible”, and yet the bigger question is “is this plan accountable?”.

This is the last chance to be accountable to residents today and residents in the future.

Lisa Kearns is a downtown Burlington resident who has been instrumental in creating ECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington.

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Muir - This new OP is not complete. Let the planners do their job.

opinionandcommentBy Tom Muir

April 24th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

I have a number of comments and concerns, based on some of my experience for the last several years, regarding the staff bring forward of this new OP with recommendation for adoption.

1. This new OP is not complete, and not good planning practice to adopt at this time with piecemeal structure and many loose ends. It is lacking in accuracy, details, and clarity.

There are 3 Mobility Hubs Plans that are an inherent part of this OP, that are incomplete. These will not be reviewed publicly and given Planning Act due diligence process until possibly early 2019.

The PPS/Planning Act specifies the need for a transportation systems plan, freight support plan, a transit support plan, and an active transportation plan. There are none of these complete and available to inform council, the public and decision-makers.

All those thousands of unaccounted for vehicles are not going to disappear because the planners refuse to recognize they exist.

There are other components of the proposed plan needing publicly settled that are incomplete.

The truth is the important planning pieces that are needed are data and facts, not all kinds of assumptions and fact-less assertions.

Taken collectively, the assertions, assumptions, and conclusions, made in support of recommending adoption of the proposed OP, are not substantiated by an evidence-based research design that can predict the future, and are professionally frowned on statements that overreach the research design.

growbold-847x254I cannot say, or agree, with the ability of the City and staff to deal with this lack of key information, and failure to implement the Planning Act/PPS, and yet they still recommend adopting an incomplete OP that has demonstrated such a lot of public opposition and continues to demonstrate this opposition tonight.

Again, I say this is not good planning, and this should be obvious, and seems to be to ordinary citizens.
You owe it to us all that you pretty much need to know, and be able to tell us on facts, that this Plan is going to work as you say. But you don’t know that.

However, what people do know is that walk, bike, and bus is not going to work for people, not in Burlington for a lot of practical reasons, so open your eyes and see.

With your focus on intensification, everything else is assumed to fit, when you should be doing the planning to make it fit.

Residents want you to be able to make the intensification fit so the Plan can fly. Plan it to work, now.
Right now, for numerous current applications – Plains Rd, Brant St, Downtown etc.- the density asked for simply has to be based on reduced standards of everything in order to squeeze it in, and if that has to be done then it doesn’t meet the PPS and needs of the existing OP and by-laws.

pigs-might-fly

Pigs don’t fly?

This won’t work because the parts don’t fit together. Pigs don’t fly.

2. Over the last few years, I have delegated severally on this OP over the process, and on a significant number of specific applications in Ward 1 Aldershot, Ward 2 Downtown, and issues related to transportation, transit, and the biking plan.

So I know what I have seen and heard, repeatedly, about what needed information is really missing and how some at the City insist that this missing information does not matter, and the city must move ahead without this key business information, and it must be done right now.

I don’t think this is anywhere good enough.

No matter when the proposed OP is approved by Council, and becomes “informative” only, not “in force”, the Mobility Hubs and the other missing plans I mentioned, are still not informative or in force until first approved by City Council, then the Region, which means it does not exist until then.

So then the Planning Act/PPS says the existing OP is required to be used, must be framed in this OP framed local context, and most important, this OP is to implement the PPS.

What is not to be considered is the language of a non-existent OP, and non-existent Mobility Hubs, and non-existent plans for transportation, transit, active transportation, and so on.

I must ask how all this that does not exist yet, is to be complied with in good faith, in such a situation where developers, not to mention the politicians and managers, are steadily trying to indoctrinate the planning staff, (ongoing in time with the proposed OP development), to encourage and approve density and form of a non-existent, not in force, and not policy relevant OP, or planning concepts and ideas?

In my observation and experience in this, I simply have to question how the Planning staff are supposed to retain their professional objectivity, and serve the public interest, when they are bombarded with this language from developers, and more so, in my view, badgered and cajoled by some insistent members of Council, and some City managers, to adopt and to act out the same directions?

With all this shoving and encouraging density and form at them, how can the planners be objective?

I’m telling you to let the planners do their job. I have seen myself some of you just not do that, but interject in questions to planners at meetings.

I have seen, and been told enough, not to think that they are not being unduly influenced about what to do.

We all know there can be a fine scary line between professional integrity and having a job.

I provide here one section from the OPPI Professional Code of Practice for your information.

2 PROFESSIONAL CODE OF PRACTICE

1.0 The Planner’s Responsibility to the Public Interest

Members have a primary responsibility to define and serve the interests of the public. This requires the use of theories and techniques of planning that inform and structure debate, facilitate communication. and foster understanding. Accordingly, a Member shall:

1.1 practice in a manner that respects the diversity, needs, values and aspirations of the public and encourages discussion on these matters;

1.2 provide full, clear and accurate information on planning matters to decision makers and members of the public, while recognizing both the client’s right to confidentiality and the importance of timely recommendations;

1.3 acknowledge the inter-related nature of planning decisions and their consequences for individuals, the natural and built environment, and the broader public interest; and

1.4 identify and promote opportunities for meaningful participation in the planning process to all interested parties.

I don’t have the time here to explain these, however, I have said what I mean and I say again, let them do their professional and objective duty.

And give the residents and Council the critical information needed to inform us all before things get decided, and to keep the faith.

muir-delegatingTom Muir is an Aldershot resident who has been delegating for more than 30 years. He understands the process better than many of the members of council. He is blunt, direct and usually exceptionally well informed. He is a ward Councillors worst dream. And he loves what he does,

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Now we know why: Jim Young goes on record - Grow Bold, Urban Growth Centres, Downtown Mobility Hubs and Special Development Precincts have simply been a smoke screen.

opinionandcommentBy Jim Young

April 24th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

For years now everybody has known that the OMB was a very developer friendly organization.

Its decisions usually favoured developer’s amendments over official plans and that in any fight for increased density or increased height the developer would win and the citizens would lose.

Jim Young with Kell in background

Jim Young – delegating to city council.

That changed recently. The new Local Planning Appeal Tribunal LPAT will be much more cognizant of city official plans and will apparently favour Official Plans in effect at the time of any appeal.

The current Official Plan is the plan that would have to be considered by LPAT. That’s the plan that has low to medium heights all the way up Brant St. and limits intensification and height to around the go stations.

So if a developer were to take the city to LPAT today, LPAT would probably rule in favour of the heights laid out in the existing plan.

For years developers have bought up land on Brant street, the core and along Plains Rd knowing that the city Official Plan limits would be easily over ruled at the old OMB. City council accepted some drastic amendments knowing that the OMB would do just that.

Now there is a good chance that a similar appeal to the LPAT would result in the present heights in the present official plan being upheld.

That would be good news for citizens but bad news for Developers.

On TV recently Councillor Sharman defended a council position that since developers investments cannot break even until their building plans exceed 16/17 storeys, it is incumbent upon city council to help them achieve this. He repeated this statement at a meeting I attended with ECoB, City Planning and Himself. This philosophy seems to be shared by a majority on council.

So if developers need at least 16 storeys to break even and current city plans limit heights to between 4 and 12 storeys downtown where can a developer go?

They can’t go to LPAT, because LPAT may well favour the current city official Plan Heights and rule in favour of the lower heights.

The only alternative was to go to a developer friendly city council and ask for a New Official Plan that would permit higher buildings in the downtown core making any future appeal to LPAT more plan friendly and therefore more developer friendly.

And that is exactly what our New Official Plan has become. A permit for Developers to build higher while avoiding the risk of losing arguments at the New LPAT.

All the talk of Grow Bold, Urban Growth Centres, Downtown Mobility Hubs and Special Development Precincts have simply been a smoke screen to cloak a very developer friendly plan in a veneer of planning respectability.

That also explains the rush to get the plan on to the books. The longer the old plan remains in effect the longer the developers are left holding properties they cannot turn into profits. This is a serious cash flow and business problem for them.

So from a somewhat banal project to review the official plan starting seven years ago, suddenly as the OMB LPAT differences became obvious last year, the push was on to get this done.

The only delays that were allowed were to help council to be clearer on exactly what was being proposed, to give staff the time to tweak the plan to ensure that the “Special Development Precincts” were exactly where the developers owned property, while dressing it up as “Public Consultation”. We are now at the 3rd or 4th rewrite I believe of this Official Plan.

Jim Young

Jim Young

As I recall the original plan was to have it adopted by council and submitted to the region by November last year. It has now been delayed three or four times, once for council, once for staff once to allow a regional agricultural mapping inclusion. It seems it can be delayed for just about anybody or anything except the people it most impacts. The people of Burlington.

At least one member of council, a large number of private delegations, delegations on behalf of various citizen advocacy groups asked time and time again if this process might be delayed to allow the people of Burlington greater input and real engagement in the process and then put the plan to them in the upcoming election. Every attempt to delay that process to allow greater citizen engagement or input was rejected by council.

Now we know why.

It seems we can delay the adoption of this extremely unpopular official plan for Councillors, for city staff, for developers and even for the region. Yet when your citizens, your constituents, your voters suggest it be delayed we are told NO!

Now we know why.

We are told that the Official Plan is way too important to delay it and allow the final say by the very people it is supposed to be written for, The Citizens of Burlington, Rural, Urban and Downtown who will have to live with it for the next several decades.

Now we know why.

Now that the citizens of Burlington are becoming aware of the reasons for rushing this flawed and developer friendly plan through council, very much against their wishes, they are mobilising to defeat it in the upcoming election.

Across the city from Alton to Aldershot and in every area in between groups are looking for candidates who will oppose and overturn this Official Plan. Candidates who will rewrite it with real input from citizens whose views have been so ignored and overlooked in this truly terrible Official Plan Process. Candidates who will fight to make citizen engagement a reality in Burlington.

The issue you tried to hide from the electorate will be front and centre in that campaign and you will be reminded of the folly of ignoring your citizens when the votes are counted in October.

If you choose to be the candidates who still, after all these delegations, after all these raised protest voices are still not listening, still not getting it, the electorate have the right to ask: “Are you with the citizens or the developers?”

You cannot continue to ignore us and claim you are with both.

Ballot going in box

The choice will be ours.

It is not too late. You can still delay this, still fulfill the wishes of your citizens. Or you can go ahead and adopt it. The choice is yours and in a democracy that is as it should be.

Just remember – come October, the choice will be ours and in a democracy that too, is as it should be.

 

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Kearns sets out where the city got it wrong wth the community benefits that were given to the 421 Brant - 23 storey high rise.

opinionandcommentBy Lisa Kearns

April 24th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

This delegation sets out my position on item PB 33-18 – Community Benefits 421-431 Brant St. as Jim Young has delegated on behalf of ECoB this evening.

Section 37Aaron A. Moore, Phd and expert on urban politics and public policy penned the IMFG Paper on Municipal Finance and Governance said the most common rationales used to invoke and justify the use of Section 37, more broadly know as density bonusing are:

• funding related infrastructure upgrades
• sharing the wealth created by development
• compensating those negatively affected by the development

In review of the 421 Brant St. Inc. report, there are few indirect infrastructure supporting benefits. With the longer vision of pedestrian-oriented flex street and the impending anchor mobility hub provisions the closest benefits are:

421 Brant• $150K in streetscape improvements coupled with $250K in setbacks/widened view corridors.

In my analysis, much of this can be takes as part of the 5% parkland dedication and the initiative to broaden the streetscape could have been reviewed by increasing Schedule O in the Draft Official Plan to widen Brant Street from Lakeshore Rd. to Caroline Ave greater than the current 18m in order to satisfy the Main Street function of: Table 1 Transportation Facilities. 2.4. Main Streets:

Serve the Downtown Urban Centre and the urban corridor that connects the Downtown Mobility Hub to the Burlington GO Mobility Hub;

Support mixed use places that contain a pedestrian-oriented public realm and street-oriented buildings;

Accommodate high levels of pedestrian and cycling activity and transit service, and moderate levels of vehicular traffic, typically within narrower rights of way;

Accommodate a moderate to high degree of people-moving capacity.

One way this could be interpreted is that the negotiators of this Report PB-33-18 have in part, bought benefits they didn’t necessarily have to and could have drafted the benefits the City finds favourable into the draft official plan, which this application is required to be in compliance of, when this was perhaps a missed opportunity, in part and adds up to nearly a quarter of the value of the total benefits.

Did we negotiate too specific and too early?

Not limited to direct funding for infrastructure upgrades, cost avoidance for future pressures on infrastructure can fall in this same category. This is where I will allocate the provision of green technology and sustainable architecture. At an indirect community benefit of $300K, LEED certification standards and/or compliance with the City’s Sustainable Building and Development Guidelines have been negotiated.

Appendix E in report PB-62-17 draws in the Burlington Sustainable Development Committee which has recognition under the current OP provides that “to the greatest extent possible, proposed development shall be consistent with the goals of sustainable development”. While the general concept of this building is acceptable, there is no evidence of stewardship initiatives in the plans to use LEED at a certified level although a willingness was verbally indicated. Why include this benefit at the application phase when it can be advantageous at the bonusing stage, perhaps the weight should have been greater in the public comments to prevent this crossroads.

Sharing the wealth created by development. There is no doubt that there is a financial consideration in a project this large, we know that from the Altus Group Economic Report and the uptick in development revenues in the City budget, not to mention the on going tax base increase. But just how much is the increased height really worth and how should this be spread out amongst the indirect parties. While not nearly enough to purchase even one unit in this property, $300K in cash is better than the single option negotiated in the 4853 Thomas Alton Blvd. report PB-16-16 which requires commitment from a housing provider to deliver affordable housing on a long term basis.

Nick Carnacelli

Kearns wants Carriage Gate developer Nick Carnacelli to think in terms of the opportunity for the applicant to help drive value out of being in a position of power for the community.

Where I do take exception is to the Applicants’s previous delegation in such an absolute statement that “the Region of Halton does not have an affordable housing plan and the City does not have a program”, that is not to say that this excuses or discounts the real need and concern for housing affordability. In fact this is where an opportunity for the applicant to help drive value out of being in a position of power for the community by spearheading inclusivity through the Section 37 provisions.

A hard look should be taken on if this was the best we could get. Going beyond shouldn’t be just going beyond height, it should be going beyond basic requirements and setting the foundation to create a demographic mix that contributes to our vibrant downtown.

Toronto Star columnist Andrew Keenan muses that the purpose of Section 37 in the Planning act is to offset the problems caused by changes to a neighbourhood when different kinds of developments are added to it, such as to compensate for increased traffic, population, or changes to the streetscape new developments bring. We would deduce that the bigger the problems, the bigger the benefits.

The list of problems with this application have been captured through online comments, delegations, written submissions, coffee shop talks, emails and a current of anxiety and unease through the community. One resident’s submission on May 15, 2017 summed it up concisely, her excerpt reads“…insufficient parking for residents, only 2 elevators, no parking for visitiors, no parking for commercial tenants, change to the individual shops along Brant with a design that is completely out of context visually with the neighbourhood, shadows and traffic…this proposal does not belong in this location”.

421 James street rendering

What will the impact of the 421 Brant development be on city hall – not just the physical impact but the impact on the way the city is going to grow.

Alas, the Section 37 Benefits – a hefty $400K in privately accessible visitor parking, a quarter of the benefits to keep visitors out of the already contentious parking needs of the downtown. This could be viewed as a benefit, however, does it address parking for the 900 square meters of retail space? At minimum the recommendation for retail store stand alone is 1.5 spaces per 100 GFA that’s a minimum of 13 spaces, but we have 8. The comparison is easy to make that other stand alone retail doesn’t offer on site parking, however, if we are afforded a chance to improve this at the foundational level, does 8 private spaces address the spaces lost with no net benefit?

This provision is meant to compensate residents for the real or perceived effects of development by providing for new amenities in the neighbourhood. Public art, a covered promenade, and the remaining benefits do little to offset the anger that has swelled in the community around this application. There are no open community amenities, no greenspace compensation for more trees, nothing. These negotiations do not even come close to anointing the damage the neighbourhood perceives and feels.

The delegation, deferred from the last meeting, was to ask Committee to simply afford the public the same opportunity that the applicant was given to have an opportunity to openly delegate and tell this committee if they have succeeded in negotiating Section 37 benefits that truly align with building an engaging city, good governance and community building.

We know our City could have done better to Grow Smart, not just Bold.

Kerns - head slantedLisa Kerns is a downtown Burlington resident and an active member of ECoB – Engaged Citizens of Burlington.  She is also a self admitted policy wonk – she digs and figures out just what much of the baffle-gab means.

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The movement of oil has somehow become a constitutional issue - Alberta and British Columbia are slugging it out.

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

April 22, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Today Canada is in the midst of another constitutional crisis as British Columbia and Alberta slug it out over the twinning of the Trans Mountain pipeline and the delivery of bitumen from the Alberta oil sands to ports in B.C. The pipeline is one of three which were recently approved by the federal government given its constitutional authority over inter-provincial matters.

Today’s global oil prices mean that Alberta desperately needs the efficiency of pipeline transport for its export-destined bitumen to be competitive on world markets. The pipeline in question involves a twinning of an existing pipe being developed by Texas based oil industry giant Kinder Morgan. This should be straightforward, a done deal, and it would be, except for the politics.

john Horgan BC

John Horgan, the NDP Premier of British Columbia and kept in office by a couple of Green Party members is battling out the twinning of an existing pipeline with the NDP Premier of Alberta.

B.C. NDP premier Horgan feels that if he doesn’t at least try to stop the pipeline, his fragile coalition with the B.C. Greens, who vehemently oppose all ‘tar sands’ development, will collapse ending his brief spell as government. So he’s chosen to tilt at windmills, challenge the pipeline on shaky environmental safety grounds, where the province may claim some authority.

Rivers 23 Notley fingers pointing

Rachel Notley, NDP Premier of Alberta explaining that when her oil can go to BC their wine can come into Alberta

There is a lot of politics on all sides. Rachel Notley’s NDP government is facing an election next year and she has to be seen defending Alberta with her life, which she is doing in spades. Her success here will be the key to her getting re-elected, despite the polls which confirm Albertan’s perennial preference for the Tories and their new leader, Jason Kenny.

And Kenny’s biggest ally is Kinder Morgan which is exploiting this B.C. opposition by halting construction and threatening to withdraw from the pipeline project entirely. There are a few protesters at the work sites, mainly environmental groups since most indigenous communities have signed on to the project. But halting construction has panicked Albertans who are understandably fed up with waiting and watching one pipeline proposal after another bite the dust.

Liberal MP and leadership candidate Justin Trudeau attends a Remembrance Day ceremony in Montreal, Sunday, November 11, 2012. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Graham Hughes.

Justin Trudeau believes the federal government has the power and the right to approve the twinning of the pipeline but he doesn’t appear to be sure how he can get shovels into the ground.

The Liberals have been unequivocal that the pipeline is within their exclusive jurisdiction and it will be build. But that will be problematic if Kinder Morgan pulls the plug. And besides, Albertans don’t trust the Liberals and learned to hate Justin’s father for doing to them what they think he should be doing to B.C.’s Horgan right now. Why doesn’t he just invoke the War Measures Act (Emergency Act) like his Dad did and tell Horgan….”just watch me”? Wasn’t getting involved in Alberta’s energy what Pierre is still scorned for today?

We have this unique situation of two NDP premiers from neighbouring and historically best friend provinces now at each other’s throats with threats to cancel electricity contracts and cut off wine and oil and bitumen.

The new federal NDP national leader is missing in action while his political kin are heading for the OK corral. Perhaps it’s just that the federal NDP is still pondering their Leap Manifesto which prescribed shutting down all tar sands eventually.

B.C.’s claim of provincial jurisdiction over federal laws has found a resonance with the Liberal leader in Quebec – also facing an election soon, and looking to shore up those errant separatists who might be persuaded to stick with the Liberals over the PQ. After all it wasn’t that long ago that a proposed Energy East project would have driven another pipeline through Quebec en route to the Maritimes.

Alberta has offered to put up some money to soothe Kinder Morgan, and the feds are thinking of buying in and maybe even buying Kinder out. It’s not clear that Kinder Morgan wants to sell, but everything has its price and perhaps the government might sweeten the deal with a threat of nationalizing in the public interest.

Pipeline -Transmountain

The federal government says the Trans Mountain pipeline twinning will be done. Just when is the real issue.

Federal investment into the project would add a whole new dimension to the potential fight between the two levels of government. And yes everyone knows that the feds would win, but when things go to court they don’t always leave the judges’ benches the way we might expect. Take the poor fellow who thought he could bring cheap Quebec beer into New Brunswick. We live in the same country –  right?

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 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.     Tweet @rayzrivers

Background links:

Trans Mountain –    Leap Manifesto –     Alberta Threats

Free The Beer Ruling

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Saturday could become a pivotal day for transit improvement advocates - Director of Transit will be on a panel - she will be listening..

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

April 19th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

The Bfast 4th Annual Transit Forum takes place on Saturday at the Seniors Centre – get there early and you can take advantage of the free Continental Breakfast.

Bfast Transit group logoBfast has been advocating for better transit for years – some of the people in the organization know more about the history of transit in Burlington better than anyone currently employed at the transit department.

They are closer to being listened to than they have in the past seven years. It has been a hard slog – the appointment of a fully qualified and respected transit executive has begun to make a difference. Sue Connor came to Burlington from Brampton where she grew that operation into one of the xxx

She will be part of a panel discussion and open for questions – this is the time for the public to let her know what they want and need and where the problems are – and there are a lot of them

The Vital Signs report produced by the Burlington Foundation highlights where some of the transit problems exist.

 

Getting around a

A partial snapshot of how people who live in Burlington get around or get to work

Bfast have a deep understanding of the transit business – they have been delegating to council for years and for the most part have not been listened to – to some degree due to the poor management leadership at Burlington Transit.

There is much better leadership in place now; the recently appointed Director of Transit is a recognized and respected professional.

Connor Sue

Sue Connor, Director of Transit.

The problem Sue Connor will have is getting the funds she needs to upgrade both the transit assets and money for additional staff – and then some money to do some experimenting.  Connor is probably part of the Burlington Leadership Team (City Manager James Ridge call it the BLT – not a sandwich).  The challenge for her is to get some of the money the city has marked for infrastructure updates – there is a special tax levy dedicated to road repairs.

Transit service - ridership decline

This is the picture Sue Conner got when she asked – How are things going? It wasn’t pretty.

Burlington is some distance from ever creating a special tax levy to bring the transit service up to the level the the planners keep telling the public is going to be needed as a critical part of the Grow Bold initiative that is going to put something in the order of an additional 1000 people in new homes each year between now and 2031.

The planners keep talking about the need to get people out of their cars and maybe onto bicycles and transit.  Connor is surely saying to her colleagues on the BLT – Sure – provide me with the funds I need to do just that.

There may be agreement between the transit people and the planners on what is needed – getting it through this council is another matter entirely.

Saturday is the public’s chance to make their voices and their opinions heard – but ya gotta be there to be heard.

Salt with Pepper are the musings, observations, thoughts, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette.

 

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What they gave you with their left hand they will take away from you with their right hand.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

April 19th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Earlier in the month the provincial government announced reductions in the cost of some GO transit services
What they are giving you with their right hand is going to be taken away with the left hand.

Premier Wynne announced last week that the cost of a trip on a GO train was going to be less.

GO train Go Bold

How you get from your house to the GO station is something you might want to re-think.

Beginning in early 2019, the province is reducing the cost of GO Transit trips to just $3 for PRESTO users who are travelling under 10 kilometres anywhere on the GO network. Ten km wouild get you from the Aldershot station to the Burlington station – no deal there.

All GO Transit and Union-Pearson Express trips anywhere within the City of Toronto will be reduced to $3

What the Minister didn’t say was that at some point in the not too distant future the free parking at GO stations was going to come to an end.

Additional parking space is going to be created at the Aldershot GO station but that, apparently, is going to be the last parking spot created at a GO station in the Burlington area.

It costs MetroLinx a reported $40,000 for every parking space they provide (no breakout on just how that cost was arrived at – but let’s take them at their word for the moment) and they just can’t afford to create parking space for that price. And the land needed isn’t really available.

The solution: They are going to dissuade people from driving to the GO stations by making people pay for a parking spot. The howling on that one when the details are announced will be louder than the public reaction to that New Street Diet.

Not to worry – don’t expect an announcement on having to pay for parking before the provincial election.

After, tighten your grip on your wallet and think about other ways to get to the GO station.

Salt with Pepper are the musings, reflections, observations and opinions of the publisher of the Burlington Gazette.

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Open letter to City Council: Staff update to official plan language regarding neighbourhood protection is not acceptable.

News 100 blueBy Greg Woodruff

April 18th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Staff recently updated the language in the official plan regarding neighbourhood protection. The language as presented is not acceptable. And a proposed motion by Marianne Meed Ward does not go far enough.

Meed Ward said she is” Working on language for motion (meeting staff tomorrow) but intent will be to remove towns from low density neighborhoods. Apartments already out.

The language as proposed by staff would essentially green light semi-detached housing in all areas of Burlington. Townhouses and apartments could also be approved if they are “compatible with the surrounding area”, respectful of the “physical character” and provide an “amenity area.” This is the same subjective language that is a problem all over the city. People have to know what to expect and we have seen the planning definition of all these terms can be very far from what residents expect. This subjective language and the ability to convert houses into semi-detached needs removed from the “Residential – Low Density” definition.

Woodruff opinion visual

Part of an advertisement running on video screens in some Tim Horton’s locations in Burlington.

Secondarily the definition of “Residential – Medium density” allows all sorts of unexpected and unwanted development. The language allowing for 4 story buildings with a rooftop deck in “Residential – Medium density” areas is also unacceptable. The difference between “Residential – Medium density” and “Residential – Low density” is largely invisible to residents. I doubt anyone knows what zone they are in and you have to check the map embedded in the 600-page official plan to have any idea.

We do not need to get into a discussion of the wisdom of these changes; We need to deliver the advertised protection to residents. The city is running ads on video screens in Tim Horton’s locations explaining how your neighbourhoods will be “protected.” What many people take that to mean is “protected from significant change.” Letting loose with semi-detached and 4 story buildings next door is a significant change.

If the city advertising said; “in neighbourhoods we will be limiting development in some areas to semi-detached and other areas to small apartment buildings” – then my complaint would be blunted. However the advertisements are very clear neighbourhoods will be “protected” and will “not change”.

We are setting up years if not decades of people that will have all sorts of legitimate anger directed to the city. We can leave the fate of the neighbourhoods to future OP battles. More than enough change is generated at the moment for people to absorb.

Direct staff to:

1) Remove the reference to semi-detached from 8.3.3(1).1

2) Remove 8.3.3(1).b entirely

3) Remove “non-ground-oriented dwellings”, “back-to-back townhouses” and “low-rise” from 8.3.4(1).a

4) Remove “non-ground-oriented dwellings” “back-to-back townhouses” and “low-rise” from 8.3.4(1).b

5) Modify 8.3.4(1).c to read “the maximum building height should be comparable to the average height of the highest points of the rooflines of existing residential buildings on the immediately adjoining properties sharing lot lines with the lands under application.“

We all need to get involved! Please like, share, tweet this post or e-mail a link to friends.

Greg WoodruffGreg Woodruff is an Aldershot resident who ran for the office of Regional chair in 2014.  There are those who believe Woodruff will seek public office during the 2018 municipal election.

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Changes in a transit policy that has failed residents for more than a decade could be in the wind. Bfast Forum Saturday could be where some of the needed change takes place.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

April 17th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

Stephanie Mah was completing a Master of Planning in Urban Development at Ryerson University and chose a Ride for Free program that had been initiated by Oakville Transit in Oakvlle Ontario.

In her Masters Thesis she said the “research investigated the Ride for Free Public Transportation program for seniors in Oakville, to understand their travel behaviour and  to understand their perspectives towards taking public transportation.

While 63% of seniors in Oakville said that the Ride for Free Transit Program did not impact their travel behaviour, 37% said that it increased their public transit use. The most popular reason for seniors to use public transportation was taking it by themselves.

Some interview respondents said that they used public transportation because they would not have to ask others for rides or they did not have access to a car. Seniors suggested that more education of how to use the bus and transfer could increase senior ridership. This research may aid other municipalities considering similar programs, which could help to sustain the independent mobility of seniors.

Jim Young who was a member of the Burlington Seniors Advisory Committee, a group that advises city council on matters related to seniors, took the Mah research and prepared a proposal that he then took before city council as a delegation.

He proposed putting seniors on the mostly empty buses on Monday’s as a major first step to improving life and health for seniors. “It will help the city to achieve its transit utilization goals at a cost that is much less than the revenue loss” said Young who argued that allowing seniors to ride the buses during off peak hours will have a positive effect on the economy and well-being of the entire city.

Jim Young

Jim Young delegating to city council.

In his delegation Young added: “Discussion of this topic tends to return to the issues of cost and why a program only seniors and Split Passes users in need. The cost to put seniors on off peak buses from 10.00 am to 3.00 pm is the loss of revenue from present seniors fare during those hours. It amounts to between $48,500.00 per year and $72,750.00 depending on the rate of uptake.

“This is less than the amount of one senior’s lifetime city tax contributions. It is 1/10th of 1% of all taxes paid annually by Burlington Seniors. It is ¾ of 1% of Burlington Transit operating budget.

The subsidy from federal and provincial gas taxes works out to approximately $0.69c per passenger journey for Burlington. In 2015 Burlington seniors made 191,000 journeys. If free transit for seniors caused a 50% increase in ridership the increase in gas tax funding would amount to $66,000.00 which means that the free transit plan for seniors could pay for itself if properly implemented and utilized.”

Transit - Oakville data

Data from the Oakville 13 week Free Monday transit pilot program.

In her thesis Mah reported that survey results suggest that most seniors drive to participate in day-to-day activities and only a small proportion take transit. The survey found that most seniors in Oakville relied on the automobile as their main mode of transportation with 43.5% of seniors stating that they used the car at least five times or more a week and 34.5% of seniors stating that they never used public transportation. The pattern is similar to what has been reported in other studies. A high percentage of seniors (67.8%) had access to a car as a driver, and 60.3% had access to a car as a passenger.

Oakville implemented a 13-week “Free Transit for Seniors” Pilot Program for seniors over 65 allowing for free travel at no cost on Mondays. The Pilot Program results reported that senior ridership increased by 578% or by 12,917 trips on the same Mondays in 2011 (shows the dramatic increase of senior trips over the course of 13 Mondays from 2007 to 2012 (Oakville Transit, 2012) highlighting the positive impact of free transportation on senior ridership.

Young wanted the city of Burlington to pilot the Free Monday concept. Council did not take up the idea. The debate over possible Free Monday transit took place at the same time Burlington prepared to spend more than $200,000 on a pilot project to add bike lanes on new street and reduce vehicle traffic to just two lanes.
The Road Diet pilot was as close to a municipal disaster as one could get – except for the cost of the Pier.

Transit - group in breakouit

Transit users at Breakout sessions at 3rd annual Transit Forum.

Bfast is holding their 4th Annual Transit Forum at a time when transit is getting more attention, a little more money and now has a Director of Transit who brings real transit experience and a well-earned reputation for growing transit services to meet public needs.

Hopefully the Oakville experience and the change in attitude towards transit will give the Oakville idea and the Jim Young proposal a second listen.

Salt with Pepper are the musings, thoughts, reflections and opinions of the publisher of the Gazette

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Resident worries that 'exceptions' in the draft Official Plan will become the rule and that single family neighbourhoods will be at risk to unwanted intensification.

opinionandcommentBy Tom Muir

April 16th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

I have been wondering about what has happened to the issues and motions raised by Councillor Meed Ward about clauses in the draft Official Plan (OP) that appear to open low density, single family neighborhoods all over the city to intensification despite repeated assurances to the contrary.

This OP process, and development applications and approvals, has seemingly endless findings, not to mention actions, revealing deviations from what residents have been told will be, and not be, permitted.

The Mayor, Ward Councillors Craven, Sharman, Dennison, Taylor, Lancaster, and Meed Ward of course, Planning Director Tanner (now Deputy city manager) City Manager Ridge, have over and over, in numerous forums, assured residents that existing single family, low density residential neighborhoods are protected from intensification under the proposed new Official Plan. And that only 5% of the city would be affected.

St lukes emerald precinct 1

Residents worry that exception in the draft Official Plan might allow for a level of intensification in their community they don’t want.

I have heard this so many times that with this revelation about these clauses, and that there has been no explanation from the Planners and City about these issues, I have lost trust in this process. It seems like you can’t believe anything we are told.

Councillor Craven has told me and other residents, at his Ward 1 meetings, that low density family neighborhoods are protected more times than I can count.

Will Craven support a Meed Ward motion to strike the relevant clause(s) from the OPs?

I think that overall, clauses that permit this intensification in single family, low density neighborhoods are in both the existing and proposed OPs .At first these permissions were reported as a change and addition only in the proposed OP, compared to the existing OP.

I believe that when fact-checked, the truth of the matter was reported as pertaining to both.

How was this missed by planning in the first place? This oversight, just makes the point even more glaring.

How can this be despite all the assurances that these neighborhoods were protected – that residents have been repeatedly told this will not be allowed to happen

St lukes emerals precinct 2

What would intensification do to streets like this?

Official-Plan-Binder_ImageI am requesting that you provide answers to the following questions;

1. How many “Notwithstanding” sections, that can act as backdoor, or default, loopholes are there in the draft proposed OP, and in the existing OP? These can override the general rules and permissions, and void the OP intent.

2. How many “Site Specific – Exception” permissions, that allow for variances from permitted OP and zoning specifications are there?

I noted this concern in my last submission on the OP to Committee.

In my review of development applications, particularly for Plains Rd. in Aldershot, I see that the “Site Specific – Exception” clause has been applied several times to try and justify a number of significant variances. The most recent include the Solid Gold and the Home Hardware – Bingo site applications. There are others.
Someone needs to do a Word search of the OPs to look for these two terms.

Better yet, the City Manager, Deputy City Manager, Planning Department Director, and the Mayor, as owners of what appears to me to be this inconsistency between words and actions, must direct the Planners to do this Word search and make public the extent to which these two terms of permissions exist in both OPs, and the extent that these permissions can undermine the promises of protection repeatedly made to existing single family, low density neighborhoods.

This is something I believe to be the responsibility of Planning to provide as part of their professional duties to provide the public and Council with all the information relevant to the OP debate and decision-making.

I look forward to your prompt reply, answers and explanation.

Muir with pen in handTom Muir is an Aldershot resident who has been a frequent critic of both the process and content of the draft Official Plan.

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Rivers on the budget

Rivers 100x100By Ray Rivers

April 13th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

After finally balancing the budget why are the Liberals now taking us back into the red? The liberal bible on economy was written by the English economist John Maynard Keynes, widely quoted as one who prescribed borrowing (run a deficit) in a recession and pay it back (run a surplus) in a boom.

Ontario was in a bad way following the 2008 market collapse, so borrowing to restart the economy was essential. And the medicine worked and today the Liberals can take pride in having delivered the lowest unemployment rate in almost two decades and a growth rate second to none among G7 economies. And they got to a balanced budget two years in a row.

ONdebt_chart 1

 

So what is with this projected deficit in their latest budget? And why a list of public goodies including:

1. Continued free university for students in need;
2. Full pharmacare for youth and now seniors;
3. Free preschool for two and a half year olds;
3. Money for hospitals to reduce wait times;
4 Dental and drug care for those who can’t afford it;
5. More senior places; and
6. More transportation including a high speedToronto/ Windsor link.

John Robarts - one of the best Premiers the province ever had: knew how to balance a budget.

John Robarts – one of the best Premiers the province ever had: knew how to balance a budget.

This is a huge social contract, second in history only to John Robarts introducing OHIP. And if a single payer system works for OHIP, providing low cost health care, the argument goes that pharmacare, pre-school and other social programs would work that way as well. After all you pay for these services one way or another if you or your loved ones use them.

Skeptics say the Premier is just buying votes with the voters’ own money. That would be a valid perspective for a libertarian – those who hold that government should be as small as possible, the cost of government and taxes as low as possible and everyone fend for themselves – the so-called right wing perspective.

So this upcoming provincial election will be a contest of ideologies. Doug Ford having upturned Patrick Brown’s red Tory vision and now campaigning to wind back government, slash social, health care and environmental programs… and spending. Meanwhile the Liberals and NDP will be promising to further expand the social safety net.

Most Ontario voters are modern progressives who appreciate the way our society has evolved and how we help each other, even if we occasionally grumble about getting the short end of the stick. In our first-past-the-post electoral system with two centre-left parties competing for the largest portion of the vote, the single party on the right can slip up the middle to win a majority of seats.

Tim Hudak - with flagTo avoid this from happening the Liberals have typically relied on strategic voting, whereby solid NDP supporters vote Liberal just to keep the Tories from winning. And their biggest asset is an extreme right wing leader, like Tim Hudak in the previous election – and possibly Doug Ford in this one.

Of course the strategic voting could go the other way, particularly as the Liberals have been in power for almost two decades and their leader is facing a combination of general voter fatigue and discontent over her style. She needs to outflank the NDP, and has obviously anticipated that their election platform would also encompass a package of rich election promises. Ergo the 2018/2019 budget.

It’s the same playbook Mr. Trudeau used in his last campaign. While the Tories and even the NDP had been promising restraint and perhaps a balanced budget, Trudeau promised more deficits. His rationale was that, given low interest rates, there was no time like the present to invest in the economy. The public bought his argument, Trudeau won the election and today Canada’s economy, that was tottering on recession under Harper, has been turned around.

Wynne, like Trudeau, has also meddled with income taxes, slightly increasing what the wealthy have to pay and reducing them for the lower classes.  Trudeau had hoped the result would stimulate the economy and shift more of the tax burden to those best able to pay, which it has.

But re-balancing tax points at the federal or provincial level will not pay for new government expenditures.  And as Keynes would tell you were he here, greater spending in a full employment economy carries the danger of inflation – akin to pouring gasoline on a fire.  As we know, where there is inflation, higher interest rates to carry the debt cannot be far away.  So Wynne needs to seriously consider increasing taxes to pay for her new programs.

kathleen-wynne-post-debate-scrum-june-3-2014

Liberal Premier Kathleen Wynne

Former PC leader Patrick Brown had proposed funding his package of goodies by applying a retail carbon tax, as Alberta and B.C. have done.  Of course that notion has now been retired to the dustbin of PC history, in  exchange for drastic program cuts.   An additional carbon tax would further stimulate Ontario’s renewable energy sector, reduce inflationary pressure and pay for the expanded social services in Wynn’s budget.

Even in an election year we need to pay the piper or suffer the consequences of an outstanding liability.  And that means raising the money now rather than just leaving more debt for our children.  Pay as you go is a gutsy move for any politician, even if it means being labelled as just another ’tax and spend Liberal’.

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 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.     Tweet @rayzrivers

 

Background links:

Ontario Budget –   More Budget –    Ontario Debt

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Resident takes a dim view of the community benefits proposed by the developer and agreed to by the Planning department.

opinionandcommentBy Gary Parker

April 13th, 2018

BURLINGTON, ON

 

In preparing to delegate on this issue I carefully read section 1.8 of the new OP which covers Community Benefits. I could find little in that document that exactly fits the agreement you’re being asked to approve tonight.

However the verbiage in this section is vague enough to allow for a wide scope of interpretations. In fact you could interpret the wording in this section in a way that would qualify even the most obscure contribution as an indirect benefit and that appears to be what has happened here.

421 Brant

The development has been voted on – 5-2 for the 23 storey tower opposite city hall. Residents are now gulping at the benefit package to the city for all the additional height.

Despite that ambiguity the underlying concept that the benefits should be proportional to the added height or density is made very clear. It’s also clear that the monetary value assigned to indirect benefits should reflect their real contribution to the community. It is in this area that I see major faults in this proposal.

To determine a rough estimate of what should be offered to the citizens of Burlington I used Mayor Goldring’s approved amendment to the new OP that stipulates 8 additional parking spaces or 190 sq. metres of commercial space per floor of height beyond the ‘as of right’ limit – in this case 17 storeys. How that applies to this already approved development is not clear to me but a calculation based on that formula using Carriage Gate’s own estimate of a $50,000 valuation per parking space tells us that the developer should be liable to provide over 2 million dollars in public benefits.

No exact dollar figure is available for the alternative of commercial space but based on land economics and the per storey formula, the value associated with that option is certainly close to a million dollars. The package of community benefits claimed in the document to be voted on totals 1,775,000 dollars.

That amount would represent a fair compromise if all the benefits claimed were properly priced, but in my opinion, they’re not. In fact a reasonable accounting of the benefits in the listing amounts to only $500,000, more than a million dollars less than what’s being claimed. So let’s look at what our planning department has agreed to for this benefit package:

To assist with affordable housing, a discount of $300,000 to be used against the purchase price of up to 10 dwelling units within the subject development, or an equivalent cash contribution to the city.

While we would prefer to see a real community benefit equivalent to any amount of cash, this is at least a measurable benefit assuming of course, we take the cash. Interestingly this concession by Carriage Gate represents the same amount it paid in lieu of meeting its commitments on its Berkeley development.

One (1) publicly accessible car share parking space (indirect non-cash benefit assessed at
$50,000) and a car-share vehicle for a minimum of two years (assessed at $50,000)

What possible benefit does the community at large derive from this one vehicle and its parking space? If it represents a benefit at all that benefit is being provided not for the public, but for the eventual residents of this building?   The $100,000 assessed in this category should not be recognized.

UW crowd at civic square

Civic Square

$50,000 contribution towards the future expansion of Civic Square

Is this potential expansion a reference to the next point which describes the set back at the north east corner of Brant and James? We need to be told specifically how this expansion is to happen in order to assess whether this money really qualifies as even an indirect CB.

And while on the subject of the contribution the set back and its purported enhancement of the civic square is to provide I draw to your attention to the architectural rendering of the Carriage Gate building and surrounding area. Appreciating that these renderings are by nature glorified versions of the eventual reality, this one is particularly flattering to the project.

Where’s The Traffic?
Presented as it is, it conveys the impression that our civic square extends to the local horizon at the base of the Carriage Gate tower.

Unless we’re planning to deny vehicle access to this busy intersection the reality is that there is no real  connection between these two spaces other than on the few days Brant Street is completely shut down.
◦ public access easement for lands located at the northeast corner of Brant Street and James Streets, the minimum dimensions of which are in the form of a triangle measured at 16m by 16m (128m2) (indirect community benefit assessed at $75,000)

This project was approved by city council in large part because of this very easement. Its inclusion was part of the ‘lesser evil’ rational our planning department used to recommend that approval. Now we are being asked to include it as a community benefit? The $75,000 assessed here should be removed.

Eight (8) visitor parking spaces (indirect community benefit assessed at $400,000)

The ratio for parking per unit in this building is already constrained so competition for these 8 spots will be intense. I would suggest that the approval for 23 stories would never have been granted if the developer had indicated it would not provide sufficient visitor parking spaces.

My own research indicates that, at least in the world of rental apartments, noise complaints are the most numerous followed by the issue of the building’s residents parking in already limited visitor spaces. This is to be a condominium complex but can we not expect the same scenario here?

To suggest that providing 8 visitor parking spots for 8 people from our community of over 180,000 residents that might be available if they ever chose to visit here and value that access as an indirect benefit to our community valued at $400,000 makes absolutely no sense!

Remembrance Day wreaths - dozens at cenotaph

Remembrance Day wreaths at the cenotaph.

Increased building setbacks, including widened sidewalks on Brant Street, James Street, and John Street, and view corridors on Brant Street and James Street to City Hall and the Cenotaph (indirect community benefit assessed at $250,000)

Again, these are factors that have already made their contributions in the context of why a 23 storey building was approved on this site. How many times does a developer get credit for committing to the same thing? This $250,000 of indirect benefits should be removed.

$150,000 towards the public art reserve fund to be used within the publicly accessibly privately owned easement area referred to above and/or in the future Civic Square expansion

This benefit potentially benefits both parties. Therefore only 50% of the donation should be allowed at least until we know where this piece of art will be located.

Implement green technology and sustainable architecture elements into the subject property in accordance with either LEED certification standards and/or compliance with the City’s Sustainable Building and Development guidelines (indirect community benefit assessed at $300,000)

How is being ‘in compliance’ with established standards a community benefit. Once again, the use of green technology for this building was sold to city council as part of the approval process and does not fit the definition of a community benefit. This represents another $300,000 that should be eliminated based on a true assessment of its contribution.

Implement City of Burlington Streetscape Guidelines Standards within the Brant Street, James Street, and John Street public realm areas, including the expanded building setback areas at- grade and the publicly accessible open space easement area outlined above (assessed at $150,000).

Here again we are asked to see conformance with guidelines and creating set backs that were already committed to as additions to what was expected of this development. Another $150,000 of dubious benefits to be removed.

I was in attendance the night city council approved this development. I came away from that meeting with a clear understanding that the approval granted was subject to the provision by the developer of appropriate community benefits beyond what we had been presented with in the rational for approval. In this delegation my aim is to point out to you that most of what you’re now being asked to approve was already recognized as part of the approval process.

There’s is little on offer here by way of direct community benefits and the monetary values assigned to the questionable indirect benefits are grossly inflated. These monies were obviously added in order to meet the percentage value required by the ‘uplift’ formula regardless of their merit!

I would also point out that those championing the Reserve Properties proposal that seeks approval largely based on what was accepted at 421 Brant, will be closely watching this process. If the at best dubious benefits and inflated valuations included in this document are accepted I would suggest you can expect to see them duplicated in the future.

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