What will they do with the No Frills Plaza - and where will the parking be? The Mid Brant Precinct

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 27th, 2019


The map below shows the boundaries of all the proposed precincts.

The focus of this article is the Mid Brant Precinct that includes the No Frills Plaza

Figure 5 precinct boundaries

Map showing all the precinct boundaries

The Mid Brant Precinct is located north of Caroline Street and south of the schools and contains the NoFrills plaza. It was created out of the Brant Main Street Precinct and Downtown Core Precinct of the Adopted OP.

Vision  The Mid Brant Precinct will serve as a mixed-use neighbourhood containing a significant amount of retail space including servicing a food store function. The precinct will function as a major retail centre that serves the day-to-day and weekly shopping needs of Downtown residents.

Map of Mid Brant Precinct

Map of the Mid Brant precinct.

To support a walkable community the entire area must provide an accessible and attractive pedestrian environment with wide sidewalks, and greenway connections to adjacent residential neighbourhoods. Future development will also result in the filling of surface parking lots and the intensification of under-utilized buildings.

Brant Street will be enhanced as a Pedestrian Priority Street with wide sidewalks, bringing buildings close to the street and small urban squares adjacent to Brant Street. An increased buffer will be provided along Rambo creek with a walking trail along the west side of the Creek. A new public urban park will also be created.

Brant Street frontage will have a low-rise character.

The east side will allow for 3 storeys within the first 20 m. Beyond 20m, tall buildings are permitted.

Concept 1:

Drawing of plaza possible A

A proposed extension of John Street to Victoria is incorporated beside Rambo Creek, which provides increased separation to low-rise neighbourhoods.

A step down in height along the west side of the John Street extension will provide a transition from the existing neighborhood.

Brant Street frontage will have a low to mid-rise built form.

Adjacent to Brant Street, low to mid-rise built form will be permitted in the first block depth. In the second block depth, mid-rise buildings are permitted.

A proposed extension of John Street to Victoria is incorporated in the centre of this precinct.

A step down in height along the west side of Rambo Creek will provide a transition to the exiting neighborhood.

Additional green space and a trail will be required on the west side of the creek.

PLaza possible BConcept 2.

This concept introduces a low-rise character to the Precinct which was not provided for in the Adopted Official Plan.

Includes a road extension of John Street to Victoria Avenue and requires transitional step-downs to the neighbouring precinct to the east which was not required previously.

Maintains low-rise character on Brant Street.

Tall buildings are permitted.

Additional green space and a trail will be required on the west side of the creek.

The concept introduces mid-rise buildings to the Precinct.

Includes a road extension of John Street to Victoria Avenue and requires transitional step-downs to neighbouring precinct to the east which was not required previously.

Allows mid-rise character on Brant Street.

As only mid-rise buildings are permitted, the block may not have a variety of built form.

Mid Brant is an area where re-development will likely occur.

Concept 1 3d rendering Mid Brant

The Image above shows how 3 storeys are permitted within 20m of Brant and beyond that 17 storeys. The view is at Brant and Caroline looking north. The 3D Model Image above demonstrates the Mid Brant precinct where re-development will likely occur. The Image above shows how 3 storeys are permitted within 20m of Brant and beyond that 17 storeys. The view is at Brant and Caroline looking north.

Concept 2 3d rendering Brant mid rise

The 3D Model Image above demonstrates the Mid Brant is an area where re-development will likely occur. The Image above shows how mid-rise is permitted along Brant. The view is at Brant and Caroline looking north.

The 3D Model Image above demonstrates the Mid Brant precinct where re-development will likely occur. The Image above shows how 3 storeys are permitted within 20m of Brant and beyond that 17 storeys. The view is at Brant and Caroline looking north.

During a walking tour of this precinct Planning staff elaborated on what some of their thinking was.  There would be a pathway along the east edge of Rambo Creek with benches in place.

The supermarket would remain but parking would be underground and some park area in the center.

Where would Joe Dogs go?

Related articles:
The outline
The bigger picture.

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How much of the traditional Burlington can the city save and at the same time meet the demands of provincial policy? The Brant Street Main Precinct.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 27th, 2019



The city’s Planning department is ready to take its first cut on what the downtown should look like. Council will review, discuss, debate and listen to delegations.

This article covers the available information on the Brant Main Street precinct.

While the overall vision for the Downtown remains the same, the Planning staff came up with two proposed concepts that are distinct and provide different ways in which to achieve the overall vision.

The two concepts are based on the revised Precincts. The development of the concepts is not starting from scratch. It was also necessary to take the following factors into account when developing the land use concepts: existing context; other related City policy; Provincial and Regional policy; and the directions given by Council for the re- examination including specifying 2031 as the planning horizon.

There are 11 precincts – two are administrative in nature – the others cover all of the downtown core.

Within each Precinct, there is an existing context of built and approved residential towers, office buildings and heritage buildings that is not anticipated to change before 2031 but which influences the character of the precinct.

The map below shows the location of all the precincts.  More derail on the Brant Street Main precinct is below the ward boundary map.

Figure 5 precinct boundaries

map of the precinctBrant Main Street Precinct applies to the portion of Brant Street that residents associate with the traditional downtown main street. Residents noted that the portion north of Caroline Street has a different character and it is now part of the Mid Brant Mixed-Use Precinct.

Vision  The Brant Main Street Precinct will serve as a unique destination within the Downtown and City-wide. It will be enhanced as a priority retail main street where the character of small retail shops lining the street is maintained.

Brant Street is identified as a Pedestrian Priority Street where the streetscape provides a safe and comfortable environment with Clear Path Zones and bump outs to narrow the distance to cross at key intersections.

A new large festival square, which is partially completed, will be located on the City parking lot between Brant and John Streets.

Permitted uses are primarily retail and service commercial uses on the ground floor with residential uses above.

Concept 1:

Brant Street will have a low-rise built form character.

Only low buildings will be permitted within the first 20 m. of Brant Street.

The remainder of these blocks adjacent to John Street and Locust Street will permit mid-rise buildings.

In addition to the overall Downtown vision, Concept 1 respects the low-rise built form character by permitting only up to 3 storey buildings along Lower Brant and parts of Lakeshore and extends it through Mid Brant.

Tall building behind

Concept 1 – would allow for taller buildings tucked in behind building that reflect the traditional Burlington.

Investors bldg

Concept 2: Image above represent a 6 storey Midrise building, an example of what could be built

The low-rise permission provides an opportunity for greater number of existing buildings to be maintained along Brant Street, while any new low-rise buildings will allow for greater flexibility in store sizes and unique store fronts, which provides the ability to maintain the eclectic look and feel that creates the unique sense of place of Brant Street. Mid-rise buildings are directed to John Street and taller buildings are directed to precincts north of Caroline Street and within parts of the Downtown East Precinct north of the Elgin Promenade.

rendering 3 d for Wendell bldg

3D rendering of concept 1

Redering 3d for Investors bldg

3D rendering of concept 2

When reference is made to categories of buildings (i.e., low-rise) the following summarizes the range of possible building heights for each building type:

• Low-rise: up to 3 storeys
• Low-mid Rise: 4 – 6 storeys
• Mid-rise: 7 – 11 storeys
• Tall: 12 + storeys

Pros and cons of concept 1.
The Concept is most similar to the Adopted OP requiring low rise-built form character at street level but with a greater setback of 20 metres to mid-rise buildings.

Maintains a maximum 3 storey low-rise character along Brant Street.

Twenty-metre-deep building podiums provide flexibility to maintain existing retail stores or accommodate new retail space.

Allows mid-rise along John Street and Locust Street.

Concept 2: Mid Rise – an opportunity for an increased pedestrian realm and open spaces.

In addition to the overall Downtown vision, Concept 2 provides for a renewal of the Downtown through a low-mid rise built form along Lower Brant and Mid Brant and mid- rise built form along parts of Lakeshore. This ‘in between’ scale of buildings provides a human scale, walkable public realm that will provide opportunities for future gathering places and open space, through potential additional setbacks and privately owned publicly accessible open spaces (POPS1) along the vibrant streetscapes.

The taller mid- rise buildings allow for wider sidewalks and more open space at the street through greater building setbacks. Taller buildings are directed to precincts north of Caroline Street and within the Downtown East Precinct.

Currently no maximum height is identified for Tall Buildings. Input received through the engagement process will be used to inform the evaluation and confirm a maximum Tall Building height for each Precinct to be included in the preliminary preferred Concept.

Pros and cons concept 2
Compared to the Adopted OP, this concept permits shorter mid-rise buildings without stepbacks.

No stepback is required resulting in the potential for a 6-storey building to be introduced on Brant street.

Apartment towers limit flexibility of retail space due to columns.

Permits low to mid-rise buildings.

Related news stories:

The Outline

The bigger picture.




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Lakeshore precinct: what the planners would like to see done - they provide two concepts.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 27th, 2019



Directly below is a map of all the precincts.  Detail on the Lakeshore precinct is below this larger map.

Figure 5 precinct boundaries

Lakeshore precinct map

This area to many is the very heart of the city – directly across from Spencer Smith Park at the west end. All the land that has not been developed is in the hands of developers who have held it for some time. There will be a battle royal over what gets to be permitted.

The Lakeshore Precinct is a new precinct which has been created out of the lower section of the previous Downtown Core Precinct in order to highlight the gateway nature of Lakeshore Road.

Vision: The Lakeshore Precinct will serve as the gateway to the Waterfront. This precinct will continue to develop as a priority retail main street particularly on the north side of Lakeshore Road. Permitted uses are primarily retail and service commercial uses on the ground floor with residential uses above. Lakeshore Road is identified as a Pedestrian Priority Street2 where the streetscape provides a safe and comfortable environment with Clear Path Zones3 and bump outs4 to narrow the distance to cross at key intersections.

The Precinct is largely developed with existing buildings ranging from 12 to 17 storeys on the north side of Lakeshore Road and one approved building of 26 storeys and with one site with permission up to 22 storeys on the south side of Lakeshore Road. Only parts of 4 blocks remain for redevelopment.

Lakeshore precinct # 1 picture

This is the kind of thing the Planners are putting forward as Concept 1 for this precinct.

Lakeshore pic 1 3d

This is a 3D rendering of what the street will look like under Concept # 1

Concept 1:
On the remaining undeveloped blocks, a low-rise built form character will frame the street.

On the east side of Brant Street and north side of Lakeshore, only low-rise buildings will be permitted within the first 20 metres from Brant Street and Lakeshore Road.

On the remaining parts of these blocks tall buildings will be permitted.

Taller buildings will have a “slender” or point tower form with a maximum floor plate of 750m above the first 3 storeys.

Pros and cons for concept 1
Differs from the Adopted OP, which permits 12 to 17 storeys, by permitting only low-rise built form adjacent to the street with slender tall buildings being permitted 20 metres back from the street.

Maintains existing low rise-built form adjacent to the street and slender towers being set back from the low-rise towers.

Only 3 storey buildings permitted within 20 metres of Brant and Lakeshore.

Twenty metre depths provide flexibility to maintain existing retail stores or accommodate new retail space.

Tall buildings permitted in the back half of the blocks away from Brant / Lakeshore.

Concept 2

Lakeshore precinct picture 2

This is an example of what the streets would look like under concept # 2

Lakeshore pic 2 3d

This is a 3d rendering of what the street might look like under concept 2

On the remaining undeveloped blocks, mid-rise buildings will be permitted.

Buildings that are mid-rise will incorporate a 3-storey podium with a minimum 3m setback.

Pros and cons for concept 2:
Differs from the Adopted OP, which permits 12 to 17 storeys, by lowering the height limit to a maximum of 11 storeys with a 3-storey podium.
Creates an opportunity for mid-rise built form by lowering the maximum building height to 11 storeys from 12 to 17 storeys.

To accommodate the lower density of mid- rise buildings, only a 3 m podium setback provided instead of the 20 metres.
Apartment towers may limit flexibility of retail space due to placement of structural columns.

On the remaining undeveloped blocks, a low-rise built form character will frame the street.

On the east side of Brant Street and north side of Lakeshore, only low-rise buildings will be permitted within the first 20 metres from Brant Street and Lakeshore Road.

On the remaining parts of these blocks tall buildings will be permitted

Taller buildings will have a “slender” or point tower form with a maximum floor plate of 750m above the first 3 storeys.

On the remaining undeveloped blocks, mid-rise buildings will be permitted.

Buildings that are mid-rise will incorporate a 3-storey podium with a minimum 3m setback.

Differs from the Adopted OP, which permits 12 to 17 storeys, by permitting only low-rise built form adjacent to the street with slender tall buildings being permitted 20 metres back from the street.

Maintains existing low rise-built form adjacent to the street and slender towers being set back from the low-rise towers.

Only 3 storey buildings permitted within 20 metres of Brant and Lakeshore.

Twenty metre depths provide flexibility to maintain existing retail stores or accommodate new retail space.

Tall buildings permitted in the back half of the blocks away from Brant / Lakeshore.

Differs from the Adopted OP, which
permits 12 to 17 storeys, by lowering the height limit to a maximum of 11 storeys with a 3-storey podium.

Creates an opportunity for mid-rise built form by lowering the maximum building height to 11 storeys from 12 to 17 storeys.

To accommodate the lower density of mid- rise buildings, only a 3 m podium setback provided instead of the 20 metres.

Apartment towers may limit flexibility of retail space due to placement of structural columns.

No tall buildings

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The bigger picture: height recommendations for the two concepts plus locations of historical and commercial operations.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 27th, 2019



The Gazette has, or is in the process of, publishing news stories on each of the nine precincts the city planning department set out.

Those precincts are a part of a plan for the downtown core that, once approved will be part of the city’s adopted but not yet approved approved Official Plan.

In order to get a bigger sense as to what the city could look like we have set out below a number of maps that provide detail for all of the downtown core including heights recommended for Concept # 1 and Concept #2, as well as maps showing where commercial and retail will be located and where the designated historical properties are located.

Immediately below is a map that shows the precinct boundaries.  The maps that follow are overlays with very specific data.

Figure 5 precinct boundaries

This map shows the boundaries for the precincts that will be created once the work on the revisions has been completed.

Get the name 7

This map shows what has been built and what is planned.

Registered and designated

This map shows where the designated historical properties in the downtown core are located along with those that are on the city registry.


Retail and mixed streets

This map shows those streets that will have retail and other commercial operations.

Heights concept 1

Proposed building heights for Concept 1

Heights concept 2

Proposed heights for concept 2

Related articles:
The outline

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Has the market for condominiums in Burlington changed?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 25th, 2019



Every month the Rocca Sisters produce a report on residential real estate sales in Burlington where they break out houses and condominiums data.

In their most recent issue they report the following:

Rocca combined

The trend line for condominium sales is consistent while the number of units sold moves around a bit.  The high so far for the year is 67 units with a low of 40.

For the purposes of the point we want to make – let us use 65 units per month as what can be sold.

At this point in time there are about 1500 condominium units that will come on line.  The Berkley is selling units that you can move into; same with the Paradigm. The Bridgewater, Saxony, Gallery, and the Molinaro development on Ontario Street are under construction with perhaps something coming out of the Revenue Property development that is at LPAT waiting for a decision on their 23 story request – they are already approved for 17.

CORE rendering

Can the market absorb these two developments that are side by side in the “football”?

Football - east end cropped


The CORE development for 27 floors, the Old Lakeshore Road (Carriage Gate people) development also looking for 27 floors and their other development on Perl (29 floors), are at the early application stage.

Simple math –  1500 divided by 65 –  suggests that it is going to take 23 months to sell those units.

There are other projects that have been put on hold.

Has the development community realized that there are limits on what a community can absorb ?

Maybe the demand isn’t what many have convinced themselves it is.

The Gallery development opposite city appears to have decided to sleep for the next while; construction on the site has come to a halt.





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The numbers that were 'all wrong' didn't get the review that was expected - the report that had been referred back to council got zip in the way of debate.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 20th, 2019



Someone on city council made the point: We are a transit friendly council.

How friendly – well they are putting a tonne of your money into new buses and they are boasting about the significant increases in transit use.

The numbers are early: Presto, the people who operate the card system that is replacing tickets, are a little on the slow side on getting data out.

The increase in transit usage was reported to have risen by 10% on a month to month basis for July of 2018 and July of 2019.

The free transit use during the off peak hours for July through to September was reported to have improved by 40%.

Mayor Meed Ward called those number “astounding” and added that “we don’t need a plan to know that we need more buses.”

The Mayor has said that she wants transit to be free for everyone – every day.

She has also said that she thinks transit should be a Regional matter.  She will have to wait until she is Premier of the province before we see anything like that.

This council has got a head lock on the idea of making the transit fleet completely electric. Director of Transit loves that idea theoretically but cautioned council that converting from diesel to electric is not a simple matter – electric buses are complex and a lot has to be learned by the people who are going to drive the electric buses and those who are going to maintain them.

connor and Dennis 2

Sue Connors, Director of Transit, does not appear to be very happy.

Council was discussing transit because a report that had been discussed at a Planning and Development Standing Committee meeting was unhappy with some of the numbers that were contained in a report – unhappy is an understatement.

They decided that rather than make any decisions they would refer the matter to the council meeting – which took place Monday evening.

Sharman on transit

Councillor Paul Sharman

But – there was nothing to discuss – whatever the concern was over the report, which could be fairly described as faulty, no one was going to talk about it Monday evening. Councillor Sharman read a statement into the record – we have asked for a copy of that statement, He added that with the changes in the grid structure and the new buses that have been added to the fleet it would be a little premature to put much stock in numbers that had been generated by the consultant. So hold off for a year.

Fine – but then – why was there a report from the consultant? And when is the public going to see the revised numbers ?

This council is sometimes a little fast and loose with numbers that they deem to be positive.

Related news story:

Councillor Sharman said the numbers were all wrong. He was right

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Council clears its agenda in an hour and a quarter: Mayor sets out what has to be done if you want to build in this city.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 19th, 2019



City Council meetings are sort of like a big rubber stamp. The details in Staff reports get discussed at length during the Standing Committee meetings which run rather long. Council meetings are usually under an hour and a half. Former Mayor Rick Goldring once got through one in just over twenty minutes.

One has to listen carefully and watch closely to pick up some of the detail that gets skipped over.

The Council meeting Monday reported that there were 24 hours of meetings between November 4th to the 12 during which there were 34recommendations put forward and 4 bylaws proposed.

City Council has to approve all that to make it the law of the land.

There were two items that we observed during the Standing Committee meetings that were going to get some attention at the Council meeting; those were the stiffing that Councillor Nisan got from the Transportation department over changes in the speed limits in Kilbride and the problem the Director of Transit had with data in a report that was being discussed.

Councillor Sharman had, as is his want, looked at the numbers carefully and came to the conclusion that there was something very wrong with them.

Sharman on transit

Ah – for the love of faulty data: Councillor Paul Sharman

As he put it at the Planning and Development meeting – they were just plain wrong. None of the other members of Council appeared to have the same grip that Sharman had on the numbers; the suspicion was that they either hadn’t fully read the report or failed to see the errors that Sharman identified.

After much discussion the Standing Committee decided to refer the report to City Council, which happened last night.

connor and Dennis 2

Direct of Transit Sue Connor giving a consultant a very hard look. She was not happy.

The problems appear to be more serious than originally realized. Council decided to refer the report back to the Standing Committee during its next round of meetings.

They basically punted the ball up the field where they would deal with it when they get to that point.

How are you liking the Burlington version of transparency so far?

Councillor Nisan said that he still didn’t have the speed limit changes he had promised his Kilbride constituents but he was still working at it. I think we were seeing an example the tail wagging the dog.

There is a process at city meetings whereby a Staff report can get approval if there aren’t any council members who want to say something. These are referred to as Consent items – they just get passed.

Among those that were consented to were: The report on Vision to Focus; the Active Aging Report and the Cootes Escarpment initiatives. Councillor Sharman had learned of an event that takes place in Detroit where more than 1,000 people show up for a community walk. |He was going to bring it up at the Council meeting and had run it by Parks and Recreation Staff who told Sharman that they didn’t need a Staff Direction – they would just do it.

Rory Nisan

Councillor Nisan still doesn’t have the speed limit changes he promised his Kilbride residents.

Now either Councillor Sharman has skills that Councillor Nisan doesn’t have or the Parks and Recreation department fully understand the relationship between Council and administration. Sharman has the community walk idea as a good to go; Nisan might have to stand on the road in Kilbride and wave a sign to slow down the speed of traffic.

Councillor Lisa Kearns chose to make some comments on the mammoth development that CORE Development Group want to build within the football – 27 storeys in a place where eight are possible as of right and up to 15 if there are benefits given to the city.

The Gazette has been advocating for some bold moves in that part of the city. We learned from Mayor Meed Ward that the acceptable benefit is for the developer to buy the land on the south side of Old Lakeshore, deed it to the city and they can have the additional seven floors.

Site south side Old Lakeshore

The Mayor seemed to be saying that all the Core Development Group had to do was buy the land inside the black box, deed it to the city, and they would be allowed to build 15 storeys instead of just the eight permitted. The developer has an application in for 27 storeys. Nothing can be built on the land, there are top of bank issues that would make any development not feasible.

That is the first time we have heard the Mayor be quite that specific. Something to think about.

Councillors Kearns reacted to a comment in the Gazette where we wondered why she had not moved the motion to receive and file the report on the development that was to have retirement apartment units in one tower of a two 11 storey tower development on New Street and nursing home care that would include what were referred to as “memory units” intended for people with dementia, in the other.

Lisa excited

Excited – this is as good as it gets.

Councillor Kearns told her colleagues that it is not her practice to “get too excited” in public nor does she “get upset” in public. She said that what Council was hearing was the extent of her public comment.

Meed ward election night 1

To the victor go the spoils.

Both Councillor Kearns and the Mayor commented positively on the development with the Mayor saying that “Burlington was open for business” and that Council wanted to “shape where it goes and the use it is put to.”

“Take note” she added: “Do it right and you get a thumbs up”.

Those comments will stick in the craw of the development community but it is what she said she would do when she ran for the Office of Mayor – and she is doing what she said she would do.

Related news stories:

Transit Director gets sloppy data – Sharman spots the errors

Nisan credibility takes a hit


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Mayor listens to a report that kept adding dollars to the budget she and her council were going to have to pass in a couple of months: she wanted staff to plan and act at the same time.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

November 18th, 2019



The 2018-2022 Vision to Focus Financial Plan is complex, expensive and a different approach for Burlington.

The meeting was to receive  the Financial Plan for the implementation of the strategic initiatives as defined in the 2018-2022 Burlington’s Plan: From Vision to Focus (V2F).

The portions of that vision that were to be tackled by council and Staff were:

Promoting Economic Growth
Focused Population Growth
Increased Transportation Flows and Connectivity
Healthy Lifestyles
Environmental and Energy Leadership
Good Governance
Community Building through Arts and Culture via Community Activities

On April 11, 2016 Council approved the city’s 2015-2040 Strategic Plan; transforming the Strategic plan into a central policy document and guiding the community’s key activities, investments and actions.  Realize that the city council we had in 2016 is not the city council we have today.  Nevertheless the Strategic Plan created then is still in place.

What city council has done is approve the creation of a Business Plan that has been named Vision to Focus (V2F) which sets out what Council and the Burlington Leadership team have identified as the key priorities for the balance of this term of office.  This document establishes the strategic actions and initiatives that will focus the city’s efforts over the next four years.

The V2F work plan intends to deliver on five focus areas, with a total of 75 initiatives which are aligned to the 25-year Strategic plan.
The five focus areas are as follows:

• Focus Area 1 – Increasing Economic Prosperity and Community Responsive Growth Management
• Focus Area 2 – Improving Integrated City Mobility
• Focus Area 3 – Supporting Sustainable Infrastructure and a Resilient Environment
• Focus Area 4 – Building more Citizen Engagement, Community Health and Culture
• Focus Area 5 – Delivering Customer Centric Services with a Focus on Efficiency and Technology Transformation

V2F timeline

It’s a solid plan – can the city deliver on council’s expectations? And do enough of the city Councillors fully understand what it is about? They are at phase two and have hit some speed bumps.

The trick is to ensure that the five focus areas and the initiatives within them are aligned with the budget – that translates into – are we sure the money to do all these things is going to be in the bank.

Phase 1 of the Financial Plan for the 2015-2040 Strategic Plan was approved in July 2016 and provided a long-term financial plan to build for the long-term implications that would be realized with a 25-year vision.

None of this is going to be cheap.

A Strategic Plan Reserve Fund was established to hold funds to administer and deliver the initiatives laid out in the plan. Any unspent dollars from the annual strategic plan base budget funding is allocated to the reserve fund.

Retained Savings: Minimum of $500,000 towards the Strategic Plan reserve fund provided the city’s retained savings is $1 million or greater.  Retained Savings is what most of us know as the surplus – money that was budgeted but not spent or revenue projections that turned out to be better than expected.

Base Budget Funding: The following is a list of annual base budget funding that will be used for strategic plan implementation;

Strategic plan implementation $150,000
Policy initiatives reserve fund for planning initiatives $100,000
Culture reserve fund for cultural initiatives $50,000
Community Investment reserve fund for community engagement and empowerment initiatives $80,000

That’s a cumulative total of $380,000 – before any goodies that might come from Burlington Hydro.  Policy is to allocate future special dividends received from Burlington Hydro towards the strategic plan

The following financial plan was approved by Council to meet the funding requirements at that time and plan for future requirements.

This is to cover “much of the core planning and policy work associated with achieving the implementation of the 25-year vision of the city’s Strategic plan. Also, there are certain distinct initiatives that begin to directly deliver some of the plan commitments. Incorporated within the Focus Areas are references to many other important documents, such as the

Official Plan,

Zoning By-Law Review,

Integrated Mobility Plan,

Transit Business Plan, and Mobility Hub Plans, to name a few.

These documents will represent a holistic approach to planning ahead and form the foundation for the future success of many of the initiatives laid out in the V2F work plan and the overall strategic plan.

V2F focus areas

Type is small – if you can read it – is this what you want your city to do for you?

All this planning got Mayor Meed Ward “fussed” as she put it.

The Urban Forestry Management Plan has her asking why trees could not be planted while the planning was being done. We know we are going to be planting trees – so let’s start doing just that, said the Mayor.

With the Staff report read into the record the meeting moved on to asking questions of Satff

Meed Ward H&S profile

The Mayor was not impressed – she describes council as nimble and agile and wants that reflected in the work that gets delivered to them.

Meed Ward had had enough.

She said that what we have here are plans to develop plans.

We will be spending a lot of money without seeing any change happen.

This council has shown itself to be very action oriented

Can we not reduce the time frame or the cost for all this – preferably both.

Can we not go outside and get some of the help we need?

Meed Ward said she understood that Planning and implementation are joined at the hip but we need to see changes on the ground.

So what can we do she asked.

City manager Tim Commisso responded saying he understood and that the report was a snapshot of where we are.

We are starting so that we have something to measure; we want to be able to nail down the numbers.  Meed Ward still wasn’t happy.

She said she wanted to see “expedited” and added that she gets a little jaded about plans and added to that that in her time on council she has seen four or five different master plans.

Trees are something we can measure while we plant.

We want to be a nimble, agile council; can we act and plan at the same time ?

City manager Commisso said “yes we can”.

That was the best the Mayor was going to get out of staff that evening.

The report was moved as received and filed.

But a message had been delivered.

Council was told that “Following the quick wins and initiatives that are transitioned to operations, 51 initiatives remain.

Of these, 19 initiatives are well defined, financial resources are clearly identified and the target for completion is within the four-year time-frame.

The other 32 initiatives are multi-faceted. Multi-faceted initiatives have a foundational and an implementation component. The foundational aspect of the initiatives represents comprehensive planning that needs to occur in order to lay the foundation for future work and decision making. This planning period will occur over a four-year time-frame (2019-2022) and the resulting documents will collectively assist in guiding the City through critical decision points on executing the completion of the initiatives. The implementation component will extend beyond the four-year time frame and the required costing and timing will become available once the planning work associated with it is complete.

The following plans/ reports (not a comprehensive list) are scheduled for completion and/or initiated within the next four years;
• Adopted Official Plan
• Audit and Accountability Report

• Mobility Hub Plans
• Transit Business Plan
• Integrated Mobility Plan
• Climate Change Action Plan
• Green Fleet Strategy
• Fire Master Plan

It was close to mind boggling.  The challenge is to determine if the Staff are available to do the work and if the funds are there to pay for the consulting that is going to be needed.

There will be more on this file in the months ahead.



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A sensible development that meets a pressing need gets approval at a Standing Committee meeting.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 13th, 2019



Easterbrook on New Street

Easterbrooks will be missed – it represents an age that was. Was it a barn that fronted on a country road?

It used to be a site where people would walk to New Street at Guelph line to buy an ice cream cone or a hot dog. It was one of the two Easterbrooks establishments that had been there for years. The building looked like a barn and probably was a long time ago.

This evening the site got approval in principle for a development that will consist of two towers that will reach 11 storeys; one will be a retirement home with 197 retirement home units to include 33 memory care units, and 145 apartment units.

TRG clean renderiing

The design is unique – the need the development fills is real.

The two towers will be joined by a passageway at the sixth and seventh floors.

The existing commercial on the site will disappear.
The approval of the development was significant in that it is the first development that acknowledges the need for both residential and retirement care space for a seniors’ population that is growing at the rate of 2% a year and will not top out for thirty years.

Councillor Paul Sharman has been both a persistent and insistent advocate for more in the way of accommodation and care for the aging population.

The original application went through numerous changes.

There was going to be commercial at grade – that was changed into space that would be a recreation/community amenity for the residents and the wider community.

The location is close to perfect for seniors who want to remain active. The library is a short walk away, the Seniors’ Centre is just as close and there is the Centennial Walkway five minutes to the south and a very very short block away a plaza that has all kinds of retail. The Dutch Confectionary shop is going to love the new business from this development.

The Tim Hortons in the Roseland Plaza is reported to be looking for a new location.

The Standing Committee approved a modified application for official plan and zoning by-law amendments made by TRG (New-Guelph) Inc. to permit the development of two joined 11-storey buildings on the site consisting of a retirement home building and a residential apartment building.

All the boxes that have to be checked off were covered. Staff did ask for some changes which for the most part were approved.

The Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility, Heather MacDonald will hold discussions with the applicant to secure community benefits in accordance with Section 37 of the Planning Act.

The modified approval consisted of additional front and side of building step-backs as well as increased setback of the underground parking structure from the front lot line.

The application went to the Planning department on February 2, 2018. On February 22, 2018 Planning Staff acknowledged that the application submitted was complete.  That’s a very decent turn-around time.

On June 19, 2019 the applicant submitted a complete re submission for review; this had to do with the change of plans for a Road Diet that had been proposed for New Street.


Lisa Kearns: The ward Councillor didn’t move the report – didn’t sound all the excited about a development that makes sense.

This development is exactly what Burlington needs.  It meets an immediate need for rental residential and it meets a need coming straight at us – places for seniors who need some care.

What was disconcerting was that the ward Councillor wasn’t up on her feet to move the report.  The Mayor took on that task.

The buildings are proposed to be joined on the 6th and 7th floor, with the 7th floor being exclusively used for the care of residents with dementia and are referred to as memory care units.

Both buildings are proposed to be terraced down to 6 storeys at the back. The development proposes a combination of underground and surface parking, with the majority of spaces being provided in an underground parking structure. Vehicles are proposed to enter the site from a single driveway off New Street between the two proposed buildings. There are no dwelling units proposed on the ground floor of either building.

The revised submission will have 197 retirement home units to include 33 memory care units, an increase in the number of apartment units to 145, and an increase in the on-site parking to 360 spaces.

The property is known to be affected by groundwater contamination from an off-site source. Prior to any development occurring on the site, the applicant will need to demonstrate that the contamination can be mitigated, to the satisfaction of the Ministry of the Environment, Conservation and Parks (MOECP); a Holding Zone will be applied to the property.


Current City of Burlington Official Plan has for the most part been met.
i) Compatibility is achieved with the existing neighbourhood character in terms of scale, massing, height, siting, setbacks, coverage, parking and amenity area so that a transition between existing and proposed buildings is provided.

The massing of the proposed buildings is appropriate at the rear of the property in the 6-storey building form. The lowest and narrowest profiles of the proposed buildings are located closest to the lot line abutting the low- density residential uses to the north; the proposed buildings fit within the 45-degree angular plane to the property line abutting the low- density residential uses, subject to the minor modifications recommended by Planning Staff.

The proposed building height represents a substantial increase to what is permitted as-of-right by the current Official Plan designation of Neighbourhood Commercial (which permits 3-storeys). However, the siting of the proposed building and general building massing has resulted in an 11- storey building that will fit within a 45-degree angular plane to the lot line abutting the low-density residential uses to the north, subject to the modifications to the 6th floor building setback and 7th floor rooftop terrace setback recommended by Planning Staff. At the front of the building, facing New Street, the lower building section closely aligns with the height of the adjacent 6-storey building to the west.

The proposed buildings have been sited so that a 45-degree angular plane can be achieved from the property line abutting the low-density residential properties to the north. The proposed buildings have been sited closer to the front of the property to generally align with the established building setbacks along the north side of New Street on this block. The longer building faces are located along the side property lines, resulting in narrower building components at the rear yard interface. The siting has resulted in a generous rear yard amenity area for the future residents of the buildings. With regard to building siting, Planning Staff consider the proposed buildings to be compatible with the existing neighbourhood character.

TRG retirement site plan

The development is well situated on thee site – lots of pathways and good open space at the rear of the property.

The proposed building setbacks of the lower building form (floors 1-5) are acceptable to Planning Staff. Likewise, the reduction of the building massing to 6-storeys and proposed rear yard setback assists in providing compatibility with the adjacent low-density residential properties to the north. The proposed setbacks of the upper portion of the building require adjustment to ensure compatibility with the streetscape of New Street and adjacent properties on either side of the development. As noted previously in this report, Planning Staff are recommending modified approval to require a 3m building stepback at the front of the building starting at the 6th floor, as opposed to the 1.5m stepback proposed by the applicant. The additional building stepback recommended by Planning Staff assists in reducing the upper building scale and massing along the New Street frontage. This building face stepback aligns with the recommendations of the City’s Mid-Rise Design Guidelines.

The building design proposed by the applicant provided one 7.5m building wall setback (6.0m to the balcony) for the 11-storey building. Planning Staff have recommended that a 2.5m building stepback be provided along the building sides starting at the 6th floor. The additional side of building stepback will assist in providing adequate separation of taller building elements, should adjacent properties develop with a taller mid-rise building form. Subject to the modifications recommended by Planning Staff, the building setbacks can be considered to be compatible with the surrounding neighbourhood character.

TRG North elevation

Elevation from the north – the floors above the sixth are set back considerably.

The applicant has proposed buildings which take up approximately 35% of the site area at grade. The remainder of the site is developed with landscaped and hardscaped area and a limited area for parking (10 spaces), driving and drop-off. The proposed building setbacks and site design allow for a large landscaped open space area at the back of the property and amenity area at the sides of the buildings. The proposed rear yard amenity area abuts the rear yard amenity space of the two low-density dwellings to the north. The applicant has amended their below grade building area to ensure the long- term protection of the cedar trees along the rear property line. Planning Staff feel that the proposed building coverage is appropriate in terms of compatibility with the surrounding neighbourhood character.

Amenity Area
The proposal includes outdoor common amenity area at-grade at the rear of the property, as well as along walking paths at the sides of the building.

TRG west elevation

Elevation from the west showing the setback for the top five floors.

Outdoor amenity area is also proposed as a rooftop terrace at the back of the building on the 7th floor. This rear terrace space is proposed only for use by the residents and staff of the memory care suites. A rooftop terrace on the 8th floor is provided as additional amenity space for the residents of the apartment building. All units in both buildings (with the exception of the memory care suites) are provided with private outdoor amenity space in the form of a balcony. Indoor amenity area is provided on the ground floors of each building and is also provided on the 7th floor exclusively for the residents of the memory care suites. A total of approximately 10,000 square metres of amenity area is provided throughout the site to support the 342 units proposed. Units in the residential building are proposed to be provided with approximately 27 square metres of amenity area per unit. Units in the retirement home building are provided with approximately 29 square metres of amenity area per unit. Memory care residents are proposed to have approximately 37 square metres of amenity area per unit.

TRG view from north

View of the development skyline from the north.

There are two properties which share the rear lot line with the subject lands. The proposed rear yard common amenity area at grade abuts the rear yard amenity areas of the low-density residential dwellings on Karen Drive. The interface is appropriate as the uses at-grade in the amenity area on the site are passive and informal, and the amenity area is primarily landscaped with soft landscaping elements up to 8 metres from the rear property line.

Conclusion: As modified by Staff, compatibility is achieved with the existing neighbourhood character and represents an appropriate transition between lower density and higher density residential uses.

City of Burlington Adopted Official Plan, 2018
The intersection of Guelph Line and New Street is identified as a Neighbourhood Centre in the adopted Official Plan. Halton Region has identified areas of non-conformity, and as such, the adopted Official Plan will be subject to additional review prior to its approval. Further, City Council has directed a new staff review and public engagement process to consider potential modifications to the adopted Official Plan in the area of the Downtown.

Burlington Hydro has commented that capacity is not available on the existing overhead power lines along New Street to accommodate the hydro services required for the proposed development. The developer will need to upgrade the hydro service from the northwest corner of Mayzel Road and New Street to make adequate servicing available. The system upgrades will be at the expense of the developer. The building will need to provide an electrical room along the south wall of the underground parking structure, accessible to Burlington Hydro staff. Burlington Hydro will be consulted on the specifications of the electrical room requirements at the Site Plan stage.

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Was making private property a public park like space a way to get around parkland dedicated?

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 8th, 2019



When I first heard the word POPS at a Standing Committee this week, I thought the speaker was talking about a pop up stand or an event that takes place for a short period of time – like a couple of hours.

The tower

The 27 storey tower seen from Old Lakeshore Road. The view to the lake would be unobstructed.

City council was listening to the Statutory presentation being made by the Urban Design Group on behalf of CORE developments who are proposing a 27 storey tower with a heritage building kept on the site that is in the “football” opposite the bottom of Martha Street..

One of the features of the development is a piece of property on the west side that was described as a POPS which stands for Privately Owned Public Space.

POPS property

The space shown as green would be private property that the public could use. The called it POPS

The developers plan was to open up the space to the public who would be able to walk around and enjoy the ambience.

The POPS space lined up with the foot of Martha Street and would allow a clean line of sight from Lakeshore at Martha through to the lake.

No mention was made of Emmas Back Porch sitting in the south side of Old Lakeshore Road.
Park space in that part of the city is going to be limited. Spencer Park is in the area but it is a bit of a walk.

Every development has to provide the city with 5% of the land as park dedicated land. Developers can choose to give cash in lieu of the land.

The cash that is given goes into the Park Reserve fund and can be used elsewhere.

POPS north to Martha

The POPS looking north to Martha

POPS south to lake

The POPS looking south to the lake.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward saw what looked like a bit of an opportunity to apply some leverage to a development that no one seems to want; she asked how much area would the POPS take up – would it amount to 5% of the overall land.

Turns out the 5% Park dedication would equal just 15% of the POPS space. The Mayor might not give up on that angle.

Martha street opening

If you were standing on Martha Street, half a block up from LAkeshore Road – this is what your view would look like.

There are several concerns with the POPS concept. The owners of the development will eventually be the condominium corporation that takes over once the development is completed and at least one very vocal condominium resident pointed out that a public space is 24/7; condominium owners would really have no privacy.

With ownership of the property comes the right to do whatever they want with it as long as they stay within the rules. And that might well be the end of the “public space” part of the POPS.

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Development to be located in the 'football' got a rough ride - CORE consultants believe they have a strong case.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

November 7th, 2019



The developer got a rough ride. It wasn’t any better than the public reception they got when they first let Burlingtonians what they had in mind.

On Tuesday they were doing the mandatory Statutory presentation – a time when Planning department staff say relatively little other than the bare bones about the project.

The Core Development Group have yet to give the project they have planned for the “football”, that oblong piece of land bound by Lakeshore Road on the north side and Old Lakeshore Road on the south side, a name.

There is the Carriage Gate Development proposed for the eastern end of the “football” that didn’t pick up a lot of support when it took their idea to the public in a very poorly attended meeting. Less than 40 people in the room.

The tower

This is what the CORE development group is proposing; the heritage building will continue as a restaurant; traffic will flow on to Lakeshore Road the other side of this rendering.

Two people from Urban Design headed up the presenting – they were professional and polished and they gave it their best shot. It didn’t appear to be enough to move this council.

Lisa Kearns, the Councillor for Ward 2 made it very clear that she would not support the development.

Mayor Marianne Meed Ward reminded the meeting that she was holding the football property to no more than eight storeys – and would go up to 15 if there were significant benefits for the public – which to her way of thinking was much more land for public use.

During the presentation the architect was brought up to explain what was sustainable about the site. He said the building would be heated and cooled geothermically – the equipment would be put in by a firm they owned.

The traffic expert came up to the podium to clarify just where the cars would get out of the 27 storey building that would have four floors of underground parking. Believe it or not they plan on having traffic in and out on Lakeshore Road. Keep in mind that the Nautique development will be on the other side of the road – almost directly across from the CORE development.

When asked what would the Chrysler Carriage House be used for the meeting was told it would be commercial and that they would probably use it as a restaurant location.

View from Pier

Someone has finally come up with a reason for building the Pier – it was that “iconic” location from which people could see the city skyline and point out all the tall buildings.

There is a word for that kind of traffic flow – wondering what the Transportation department will have to say when the project gets to them?

Bryan Nykoliation, who was introduced as the development owner (which he isn’t) was asked by the Mayor if he would withdraw the development until such time as the city has completed the study it intends to do once the review and refinement of the adopted but not yet approved Official Plan work is completed. Nykoliation said he would not do that.

The site

The western edge of the development lines up with Martha Street

Their design consultant said she believed the CORE group had a very strong argument justifying the location and the building her client wanted to build.

A large part of the presentation was on how the proposed development fit into that part of the Lakeshore community.  The design consultants used the existence of the under construction Bridgewater project and the approved ADI Nautique development as their view on what was to come and how their development fit into the bigger picture as they saw it.


The developer argued that they weren’t adding anything to the skyline that wasn’t already there.

Looking south from ADI site

The outline on the right is the ADI Nautique structure. Lakeshore Road is in the middle with Emma’s on the other side. The CORE development would block the view of Emmas.

They provided illustrations showing that there project wasn’t going to be any bigger than anyone else’s. They have illustrations of view from the Pier and an illustration that purported to show that the view from Martha street looking south to the lake left people with a clear view.  They didn’t include Emmas Back Porch in the illustration.

The event was one of the more boisterous Statutory meetings we have seen in some time.  The developers have been meeting with the Planning department people for some time; they left the impression that the planners are comfortable with the development.  Consultants get paid to do that.

Different view points

Views on what the development will look like from different locations.

Extending the waterfdront experience

The consultants took the position that there development was, to some degree, an extension of Spencer Smith Park There will be a wide public path at the edge of the lake behind the Bridgewater that leads up to Old Lakeshore Road. Making the case that it is an extension depends on what gets built on the western end of the “football”

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How we got to where we are with the Official Plan - it is not a pretty picture.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 31st, 2019


This is the second of a six part series on how the city is revising the adopted but not yet approved city plan.

The Taking a Closer look report was prepared by SGL,  a consulting group and delivered to the city last August.

The public didn’t become aware of the document until earlier this week. So much for “meaningful engagement”.

The report is the first step in the re-examination of the Official Plan. It is intended to provide a guide to the background to the City’s Official Plan (OP) Policies for the Downtown and the process the City is currently undertaking to re-examine the Downtown OP Policies.

Table work Action plans Thomas

Planning Staff met with citizens during an Action Plan meeting where the participants had workbooks to record their thoughts.

A companion piece to this report is the Public Engagement Plan. It provides a roadmap of the engagement activities that were to take place over the next few months, highlighting at which points in the process engagement will take place, who will be engaged and the level of engagement. The plan also clearly defines which aspects of the process the City and public can influence throughout the discussion.

On February 7, 2019 the new City Council voted to re-examine the policies in the adopted Official Plan. The Council motion directs Burlington’s Director of City Building to commence a process to re-examine the policies of the Official Plan in their entirety as they relate to matters of height and intensity and conformity with provincial density targets.

A Council workshop was held on March 18, 2019 to obtain further Council feedback on this direction. Council’s further feedback resulted in focusing the work on the Downtown and on refinements to the Neighbourhood Centres policies.

A work plan for re-examining the Official Plan policies was presented by City Staff to Planning and Development Committee on May 21, 2019 and approved on May 27, 2019.

The outcome of this work will be a set of modified policies for the Downtown supported by a Final Report prepared by SGL – the consulting firm the city hired to produce the study and manage a large part of the public engagement.

It is amazing how many people do not fully understand what the purpose of an Official Plan is; what it does and how it gets revised.

An Official Plan is a statutory document that describes the City’s long-term, land-use strategy for the next 20 years. It is prepared with input from the public and helps to ensure future planning and development will meet the specific needs of the community.

An official plan deals mainly with issues such as:

• the location and form of new housing, industry, offices and shops;
• the anticipated needs for services such as roads, watermains, sewers, parks, schools and community amenities;
• where future growth will happen in the City and how to make effective use of land;
• opportunities for community improvement initiatives; and
• community identity, place-making and urban design.

The over-rising issue during the October 2018 municipal election was the matter of height – and where the tall buildings would be located.  Most people did not object to tall 25 storeys + buildings – they just didn’t want them in the downtown core – south of Caroline.  At this point in time the citizens are looking at three that have been approved (one has shovels in the ground) with three others working their way towards the planners at city hall.

City council on innauguration Dec 3rd - 2018

Once they were sworn in they got down to business – the day after this was taken they fired the city manager.

An Official Plan is typically intended to plan for a 20-year time frame but could provide direction beyond that time period. The Re-examination of the OP is intended to guide planning to 2031.

The Official Plan Burlington is working under today was approved in 2006.

The City commenced an Official Plan Review in 2011. The review included preparation of numerous studies, analysis and public engagement over an 8 year period including preparation of a Mobility Hubs Opportunities and Constraints Study, Employment Land Studies, and a Commercial Strategy Study. This review was intended to conform with and implement the Region’s Official Plan and conform to the new Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe.

This is how we got to where we are.  The next installment is about the process being used.


Process history

How we got to where we are – it is not a pretty picture.

Mobility hubs were to be one of the planning approaches Burlington would use to accommodate the growth that was to take place.

Paradigm -3 from front

The Molinaro Group were the first to develop around a GO station – one of the three mobility hubs in Burlington.

A Mobility Hub, as defined by Metrolinx, is a major transit station area that has the potential to accommodate a range of employment, housing, recreation and shopping around it. Mobility Hubs are intended to be mixed-use neighbourhoods that are walkable, bikeable and transit-oriented and to be a focus for intensification. The Hubs will also take advantage of Metrolinx’s planned Regional Express Rail, which will feature two-way, all-day service every 15 minutes along the Lakeshore West line. The four areas included in the Mobility Hubs Study were Aldershot, Burlington, and Appleby GO Stations, as well as Downtown Burlington.

A major transit station area (MTSA) is an area around a higher order transit station or the area around a bus depot in an urban core or downtown. Higher order transit includes subways, GO lines, streetcars and buses in dedicated rights of way. An MTSA is generally the area within a 10-minute walk (500 to 800 metres) of the transit stations. However, the Region is required to delineate the specific boundary of the MTSA, which will be done as part of their current Official Plan review. Lands within an MTSA are required to provide a diverse mix of uses, support transit, be a focus for growth, and in certain cases achieve a minimum density.

The Halton Region Official Plan recommends that Mobility Hubs receive a higher level of development intensity and design consideration to support transit than what may be applied in other MTSAs.

Following the identification of Mobility Hubs by Metrolinx, the City’s long term 2015 – 2040 Strategic Plan identified the importance of Mobility Hubs near the City’s GO Stations and in the downtown.

Mobility hubs

The original view was that there would be four mobility hubs – the one in the downtown core was little more than a bus station. It is expected to be removed from the list.

In July 2016, Burlington City Council approved a staff report, which outlined a work plan, allocation of staff resources and required funding to simultaneously develop four Area Specific Plans, one for each of Burlington’s Mobility Hubs. An Area Specific Plan, also sometimes called a Secondary Plan, is a plan that is more detailed than an Official Plan and guides future development in a specific geographic area. An Area Specific Plan can include a variety of studies and contains specific policies to guide future development.

City Council unanimously approved the project, with the goal of completing all four Area Specific Plans no later than June 2018. In April 2017, the Mobility Hubs Team began a comprehensive public consultation program around the future vision for each of the Mobility Hubs as shown in the timeline for the Downtown Mobility Hub work.

mobility hub sched

Downtown Mobility Hub Study Timeline. The work on the Mobility hubs was put on hold when the city realized that the number of developments in the downtown core were overwhelming the planning staff and except for the Molinaro Group and the Adi Development Group, no one was doing anything within the hub boundaries.

Staff began working on the Downtown Mobility Hub Area Specific Plan in advance of the other three Mobility Hubs with the objective of including a vision for the downtown in the draft New Official Plan in late 2017. The New Official Plan provided an opportunity to strengthen the existing policy framework for the downtown.

The boundary for the Downtown Mobility Hub included both the existing “Downtown Mixed Use Centre” boundary in the current Official Plan as well as the Urban Growth Centre (UGC) boundary.  The Downtown Area Specific Plan was developed with a long term, full build-out perspective which extended well beyond 2031.

The City of Burlington Official Plan 2018 was adopted by Burlington City Council on April 26, 2018.

A new city council was sworn in on December 3rd, 2018.

On December 4, 2018, the Region of Halton provided a notice to the City advising that the adopted Official Plan does not conform with the Regional Official Plan in a number of respects including issues related to agricultural, employment, transportation and natural heritage. The Region did not identify any issues of conformity with the Downtown Precinct policies.

The Region informed the City that the City can make additional modifications before the plan is approved by the Region with appropriate planning justification and public consultation. Today, the adopted Official Plan is still under review by the Region for regional approval.

City Council together with the direction to re-examine the Official Plan also passed an Interim Control By-law (ICBL) and put the Mobility Hub Area Specific Planning on hold.

Part 1

Next installment: The Process.

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Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown: What You Need to Know

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

October 30th, 2019


This is the first of a six part series on how the city is revising the adopted but not yet approved city plan.

It doesn’t carry the same weight as the Shape Burlington report but if we don’t manage what the Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown: What You Need to Know report sets out – there won’t be all that much left of the shape people who voted for the new city council wanted.

The report is lengthy and we aren’t going to set it all out for you in a single document. What we are going to do is publish the report in six pieces based on table of contents which read as follows.


What is the Purpose of this Report?
Why is the City Re-examining the Adopted Official Plan?
What is the Purpose of an Official Plan?
How Did We Get Here?

Crowd small with maps

People who took part in the Walking Tour looking over the map.

The Process

What were the Objectives of the Downtown Precinct Plan?
What Public Events were Held During the Official Plan Process?
What did the City Hear During the Official Plan Process?
What is Involved in Re-Examining the Downtown Policies?

Governing Policies and their Role in the Outcome

What is The Provincial Policy Statement?
What is A Place to Grow, Growth Plan for the Greater Golden Horseshoe?
How does the Halton Region Official Plan Guide Planning in the Downtown?
What is the City’s Vision in the Adopted Official Plan?
What are the Key Policy Directions that Influence the Downtown?

Connections to Other Projects
What is the Timing of the Region’s Official Plan Review?

What’s the Status of the Area Specific Plan for the Downtown Mobility Hub?

What is an Interim Control By-Law?

What is an Interim Control By-Law?

The Engagement Plan and What You Should Know
What is an Engagement Plan?
What Does Meaningful Engagement Look Like?
What Does Meaningful Feedback/Input Look Like?
What You Should Know to get Involved

The work being done on the adopted but not yet approved Official Plan is referred to as a Scoped Re-examination. The next step is to finalize the background technical studies that were initiated during the Mobility Hub Area Specific Planning Study including, but not limited to, studies on cultural heritage, municipal servicing and transportation.

We will use these themes to guide the creation of two land-use and built form concepts for the downtown. We will also use the themes and principles developed with the public to create evaluation criteria, which will be used to evaluate the two concepts.

We will then share the two land-use and built form concepts to start a discussion with the public. Based on public and technical inputs and application of the evaluation criteria, a recommended concept will be developed and presented to Council for endorsement.

The concept endorsed by Council will be used to refine the Downtown Precinct Plan policies in the adopted Official Plan. Those refined policies will in turn be presented to Council for endorsement. The concept and policies endorsed by Council will then be sent to Halton Region for final approval.

scoped timeline

The report was released to the public today – unfortunately it wasn’t given to the 150 people who took part in the Action Plan Workshops, nor was a copy given to the 40 some people who took part in the Walking Tour.

That was regrettable.

The Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown: What You Need to Know report is the first step in the re-examination of the Official Plan; it is intended to provide you with a guide to the background to the City’s Official Plan (OP) Policies for the Downtown and the process the City is currently undertaking to re-examine the Downtown OP Policies.

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Is it a 'football' or a peanut? It iis certainly the most important piece of land left for development in the downtown core. Probably the last chance to do something magnificent in this city.

SwP thumbnail graphicBy Pepper Parr

October 29th, 2019




The land between Lakeshore Road and Old Lakeshore Road has been referred to as the football every since we started publishing. Why would the city want to name is the peanut?

Is it a football or a peanut?

What most people know as the “football” was referred to as the peanut by Director of Planning Heather MacDonald at one of the Action Plan sessions last week.


Is it a football ….


…or a peanut?

It is probably the most significant piece of developable land left in the downtown core.

In time it might equal Spencer Smith Park in importance to the look, feel and public open space in the city.

Right now there are developers crawling all over the land with proposal for developments that will rise more than 25 storeys.

The Carriage Gate Group subsidiary Lakeshore Old Burlington gave a presentation to a very small group at a public meeting recently. No one has yet to explain why that meeting was so poorly promoted.

model 3 d 0f the site

Not much of that quaint, walk-able community in this 3d model of what the CORE Development group want to dump into the ‘football’.

The CORE Development group gave the public a good look at what they have in mind for the properties to the west of the Burlington Old LAkeshore proposal.

They will be making the required Statutory presentation to city council on November 5th at city hall

Lakeshore Mixed use precinct

Lakeshore Mixed use precinct – on the north and south side of Lakeshore from Locust to Martha. Each property will have its own rules put in place.

During the two Action Plan workshops the city held for residents some people wanted to know why the “football” and the Lakeshore Precinct were not included in the public think sessions.

They were told by the Director of Planning, Heather MacDonald that those precincts were to be the subject of separate studies once the revisions to the adopted but not yet approved Official Plan are in place.

One can sympathize with the workload the Planning department faces but the “football” and what has been defined as the Lakeshore precinct are just as important as the look and feel of Brant Street if not more so.

What makes Burlington the city it is – is the lake.


At the eastern edge of the football – the tower will become the gateway to the downtown core.

CORE rendering

This structure is to the immediate west of the latest Carriage Gate Development.


The millions spent on the Pier; the millions spent on getting public access to the lake at the foot of the Bridgewater development and public access to the lake through that development will be for naught if there are no rules that apply to the football and the Lakeshore precinct.

At this point there are two mammoth development applications for the “football” on the table

Let us not repeat the terrible mistake with that Anchor Hub – the label that got stuck on a tiny bus terminal.

Related news stories:

The stunning development planned for the “football”

Can high rise development be brought to an end?

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Hubs, MTSA's, Anchors and Urban Growth Centres and a bylaw that brought much of it to a halt.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 28th, 2019



There are mobility hubs

There are anchor hubs

There are MTSA’s – Major Transit Station Areas

There are urban growth centers.

They are all tied together but not all that well understood.

Transit terminal - John Street

We know it as the bus terminal – the bureaucrats call it an Anchor Hub; a developer saw it as a great stroke of luck.


A bus terminal made the height of this development possible.

One of them, the Anchor hub that had been proposed for what most people know as the bus terminal on John Street, put the city in a position where they could not deny a developer the right to put up a building – which really screwed up the plans the city had for property on Lakeshore Road close to where it meets up with Old Lakeshore Road. The developer used the existence of an Anchor hub as justification for the high rise.

The Anchor hub is basically a small bus depot that at one point was to be torn down.

Paradigm -3 from front

Three of the five towers that make up the Paradigm development on the north side of Fairview right next to the GO Station.

The Mobility Hubs are clustered around the GO stations where the developers have bought up as much of the and as possible. The Molinaro Group was ahead of the development crowd when they broke ground for the Paradigm development – five towers snuggled up beside the Burlington GO station.

Gailbraith Station west + cranes

Adi Developments Station West in the early development stage. Councillor Kelvin Galbraith has a number of major developments taking place in the western end of the ward that will increase GO train traffic.

The Aldershot GO station area has a very large two stage ADI development underway.

Nothing in the works yet for the Mobility hub that will be part of the Appleby GO station.

There isn’t all that much controversy around the Mobility hubs – although Dr. Shie would like to see the eastern edge of the Burlington GO hub moved to the east – to the other side of Guelph line so that it includes the property at Guelph and Harvester Road.

Urban growth centre

The boundaries of the Urban Growth Centre that the province required every municipality to have. Many now believe that the location chosen and the boundaries put in place need to be changed.

The Urban Growth Centre is something the city had to create. That was a provincial requirement. The city had to have one – but it had some influence on where it would be located and what the boundaries are. The current UGC boundary is a little too far to the south for many people.

It was created in 2006 – many think both the location and the boundary lines were a mistake. Members of the current council have come to believe that the location of the current UGC can be moved and the boundary changed.

You had to have one but you get to determine where it will be located.

The Anchor isn’t a gotta have. The story we got from Councillor Lisa Kearns is that the city will get rid of the Anchor Hub (bus station) just as soon as the Interim Control Bylaw is lifted – which is expected to happen in March of 2020.

McKenna at the door

Burlington MPP Jane McKenna stuck her head in the door, didn’t like the look of the meeting and left.

Getting the location and boundary of the Urban Growth Centre is not as easy. Kearns told the Gazette that the members of the provincial government: Jane McKenna, Burlington and ‎Effie Triantafilopoulos, Oakville North Burlington will be drawn into the discussions.

‎Triantafilopoulos understands the complexity of the issue and is for the most part approachable and works at having good, strong working relationships with her peers.

Many residents have not had the same experience with McKenna.

It will be interesting to see how this work out. We weren’t able to get much in the way of a sense as to how long this will take from Councillor Kearns.

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Good technology puts information in the hands of the public.

News 100 blueBy Pepper Parr

October 24th, 2019



The city council in place now looks at technology a lot differently than the council that served from 2010 to 2018.

That cohort was not comfortable with technology, were unable to make it work for them and didn’t know how to direct staff to make it work for the citizens.

The new council has members that know a lot more than many of the people in the IT departments. Lisa Kerns will rattle off data and phrases that most people don’t quite get. Part of it is some showing off – but she usually knows what she is talking about.

Getting information into the hands of the public, at least for those who want to know the what and why of what’s happening, is easily done if good data applications are put in place.

There is now a source of almost everything you might want to know about developments taking place in the city.

Development mapYou can adjust the size of the map.

Then by clicking on on any one of the red dots you get a short summary of who is doing the development and links to the city’s planning department which then gives you a list of all the studies that were done.

There is also a link to the developers web site.

Most of what you need is at your finger tips – no more scooting around from place to place to gather information on a single development.

A good step forward..

Try it – the Development sites is part of the Get Involved city web site.



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Action Plans - can they be turned into concrete plans that can be defended if they are challenged by the development community?

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

October 24th, 2019



The people in the planning department and those in communications were about to learn if they had put together a program that would bridge the gap between what was planned and what was actually achieved.

Sticky notes

Each of the yellow “notes” were an idea, a comment that would be reviewed by planning staff.

Planner with resident

Planning staff floated through the room ready to answer questions. There were a lot of questions.

It was complex.

The city has an Official Plan, it is required to have an Official Plan and it is required to update that Plan.

In 2018 the city approved an Official Plan and sent it off to the Region.

City plans have to comply with the Regional Official Plan.

That plan got called the “approved” Official Plan.

Then the city held an election and a new council was in place along with a new Mayor who believes she was elected to make some changes.

Development map

Each red dot is a development proposal – the planning department couldn’t keep up with the applications.

Development applications were being submitted to the Planning department at a brutal rate.  Staff could not keep up with the volume but the rules of the planning game are that anything that is submitted to the Planning department has to be considered.

The city needed to put a halt or at least slow down the rate at which development applications were being submitted.

They imposed an Interim Control Bylaw (ICBL) which put a halt to the approval of any new developments within a specific area. That area was defined as the Urban Growth Centre.

The new city council and the new Mayor then directed Staff to re-write the “approved” Official Plan and ensure that there was plenty of opportunity for public input.

Concept sheet

The audience was given choices that the consultants said could be revised, added to or merged with other ideas. There was nothing that couldn’t be out on the table.

That is what got 75 people at an Action Plan meeting last night at the Lions Club Wednesday evening plus another 75 people for an afternoon meeting – to look at what the city had collected in the way of information and ideas at a meeting that took place in August.

Lisa Keerns with ward resident

Lisa Kearns, on the left, the ward Councillor in discussion with a resident.

Table group

Couples worked diligently on the documents they were given and asked challenging questions throughout the evening.

There was criteria, there were principles, there were precincts and there were ideas – they called them concepts that they wanted the public to look at, debate, discuss and provide whatever was on their minds as feedback to the planners and the consultants.

The afternoon and evening sessions of the Action Plan meetings were considerably different. The Gazette did not attend the afternoon session, which we were told worked quite well.

The people at the evening session kept going off script – they had all kinds of questions that were not directly related to what the facilitators were trying to get across.

MacDonald + Enns

Planner Allison Enns with Director of Planning Heather MacDonald on the right.

On two occasions the Director of Planning had to go to the front of the room and quietly explain some of the decisions that were being made.

The evening session wanted to know why the Waterfront Hotel property was not being included in the discussions –same with what has come to be known as the “football”, that property between Lakeshore Road and Old Lakeshore Road that has to 24 storeys plus application in the hands of the planners.

There were very some pretty sound reasons for not including those two pieces of land. It wasn’t at all certain that the audience understood just what those reasons were.

It was a solid two and a half hours of people who care about their city and do not want to see the downtown core become a collection of high rise towers with nothing but wind tunnels at the street level.

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Getting up close and personal with your city. Wear comfortable shoes.

News 100 yellowBy Pepper Parr

October 23rd, 2019


This article has been revised to include comments from ECoB

Last October we elected a new city council. They said they were going to make changes and that they were going to engage you in that process.

They weren’t kidding.

Two views of the downtown core:  The first picture is what Burlington once was, the rendering below that is what some people want Burlington to be.

Dominion Canning - foot of Brant 1906

This was the factory at the bottom of Brant street where fruit and vegetables were canned. There aren’t many people around these days who remember the pungent smell of tomatoes being boiled and canned. Below is what some citizens want.

Plan B rendering

The Waterfront Hotel site is up for re-development. There is a group of citizens who want to see a clear line from the bottom of Brant Street out into the lake with the redeveloped hotel site moves to the east.

Today there are two Action Labs at which the city is going to reveal two concepts on what the city might look like in the future.

Both are taking place at the Lions Club at 1pm-3pm & 7pm-9pm.

There is also a Walking Tour – Sat. Oct 26 – 1:30 – 3:30 p.m.
This is part of the Taking a Closer Look at the Downtown exercise.
Tour leaves the No Frills plaza 571 Brant St at 1:30 p.m.

1. See first-hand the areas of downtown that are being looked at as part of the re-examination of the adopted Official Plan

2. Experience what mid and tall rise buildings feel like from the street, when walking through the downtown.

The event has not been all that well promoted.  ECoB, the Engaged Citizens of Burlington relased the following information earlier today.

What will happen?

  1. The city will show two preliminary concepts for the revised Official Plan for Downtown.
  2. You will be invited to provide feedback via a ‘citizen action lab’ workshop.
  3. Your feedback will be included in the next stage as a final plan is drawn up for consideration by Council.

The failure of the city to successfully engage with the public on the Official Plan in 2017/18 was a major reason for the creation of Engaged Citizens of Burlington and for the changes on Burlington Council last year.

Is the City Doing Engagement Right This Time?

ECoB has welcomed the improved processes that are being used for public meetings during the process of revisiting the downtown plan.

Nevertheless, we are disappointed that given a year to review the downtown OP, the city is still relying on citizens being able to attend public meetings or visiting city websites to provide comment. We believe it was essential for the city to reach out to residents who traditionally do not or cannot attend public meetings or participate in online questionnaires. A small additional budget for more vigorous public engagement would have helped the city obtain public comment that was statistically relevant and representative of the whole community.

Nevertheless, don’t miss the opportunity to have your say on the draft plans! Make sure your voice is heard!

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City asking the people who pay the bills to speak up and take part in the planning for what the city should look like.

News 100 yellowBy Staff

October 17th, 2019



The push is on.

The city wants some of the political oxygen that we are all breathing.

People are focused on the federal election.

The city wants you to remember that they too play a role in how decisions are made and they want you to take part in that process.

They have all kinds of things lined up for you.

It all starts with a feedback report summarizing what the City heard during the first phase of public engagement for the re-examination of Burlington’s adopted Official Plan; that is now available online at getinvolvedburlington.ca.

What follows is all great stuff – what is worrisome is that an earlier survey drew 308 responses from a city with a population of over 175,000 people.

308 respondEarlier this year, Burlington City Council directed City staff to re-examine the downtown policies in Burlington’s adopted Official Plan, including the height and density of buildings. As part of this work, the City hosted a series of public engagement opportunities in August and September, designed to give the community the chance to provide meaningful input on the community’s vision for the downtown, both online and in person.

Participants in the engagement were asked questions about the downtown, including what matters most to them; what they like and dislike; what they want to see protected as the downtown continues to grow; and what they want to see more of in the downtown, through the following engagement opportunities:

• Action Labs – two workshops open to the public where approximately 70 people worked together to discuss, identify and prioritize what is most important to them about the downtown

• Pop-up events – 17 pop-ups events across the community where City staff interacted with hundreds of residents from all wards

• Survey – a total of 308 responses were received online and by hard copy. Working with the Halton Multicultural Council, the survey was translated into five languages, including Arabic, Simplified Chinese, Punjabi, Spanish and Tagalog.

What matters most about downtown: What we heard
From the feedback gathered, the themes heard most often from participants included:

• Keep and attract new businesses

Plan B rendering

Plan B hasn’t gotten much in the way of attention lately – it is a citizen led initiative to ensure that when the Waterfront Hotel is torn down and replaced that whatever is built keeps a clear view from Brant Street out to the Pier. The city has never shown much enthusiasm for the idea.

• Protect and enhance existing green spaces, strengthen connections to the waterfront, and plant more trees

• Enhance downtown’s role as a year-round cultural, tourism, shopping, leisure and event destination

• Housing options and affordability

• Enhance pedestrian spaces and provide more transit and cycling options, and reduce congestion

• Mid and low-rise buildings preferred in many areas

Street - what is being taken down

These are the storefronts on Brant Street, opposite city hall that will disappear when the development for the area begins construction. A height of 17 storey has been approved – the developer wants 23 – identical to the property to the north on the other side of James Street.

• Maintain the small-town charm and preserve heritage

• Safer, more usable, inclusive public spaces

• Appropriate parking supply.

How will the feedback be used?
The feedback gathered in August and September is being used to develop two concepts of what the downtown could look like in the future. These concepts will be shared with the public for further review and input starting the week of Oct. 21. Feedback gathered in the second phase of the public engagement will inform a revised downtown concept, presented as a recommendation to Burlington City Council in January 2020.

More public engagement – Phase 2, starts the week of Oct. 21
To create policies that reflect the community’s vision for the downtown, the City of Burlington needs to hear from as many people as possible. Please consider lending your voice at one of the upcoming public engagement opportunities:

• Week of Oct. 21, go online to getinvolvedburlington.ca to view the two concepts of what the downtown could look like, reflecting the priorities the City heard in the first round of engagement

Dwyer-Tanner-preg lady

Action Lab participants in one of the early sessions.

• Action Labs
Working in small groups, discuss and identify what you like and don’t like about the two downtown concepts. Action Labs will be held on:

• Wednesday, Oct. 23, 1 to 3 p.m. or 7 to 9 p.m. at the Lions Club, 471 Pearl St.

• Saturday, Nov. 2, 1 to 3 p.m. at Mountainside Recreation Centre, 2205 Mt. Forest Dr.
Drop-in, registration not required.

• Downtown Walking Tour
Take a walking tour of downtown Burlington to get a first-hand view of the areas where policies are being re-examined, on Saturday, Oct. 26, from 1:30 to 3:30 p.m., meeting at the No Frills Plaza at 571 Brant St.

• Online Survey
Go online to share your thoughts about the two downtown concepts at getinvolvedburlington.ca. Survey available starting Wednesday, Oct. 23.

Blair Smith talking to planner Heaher MacDonald

Heather MacDonald, Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility in conversation with Blair Smith.

Heather MacDonald, Executive Director of Community Planning, Regulation and Mobility, who is driving much of this public engagement explains where all this is going: “When we set out to re-examine the downtown policies in the adopted Official Plan, one of the objectives we established was to create an ongoing record of the feedback gathered and to report back to the community about what we heard.

“We hope this report is helpful in tracking the progress of the project and in understanding how the input collected may or may not inform the final recommendations to Council.”

“The next key opportunity for public engagement that will directly influence a recommendation to Council starts the week of Oct. 21 and I encourage anyone who cares about the future of the downtown to participate in the conversation.”


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A viewpoint on where the city is going - straight up seems to be the direction.

News 100 redBy Staff

October 11th, 2019



There are all kinds of ways to communicate – tweeting being the one that some people can’t stay away from.

A reader who follows all this stuff sent us a tweet with an in depth comment on what can and perhaps cannot be done with the “football” between Lakeshore Road and Old Lakeshore Road.

It is described by another reader as “One of the best comments we have read regarding development and the Downtown Urban Growth Centre. Thank you James, whoever you are. “ There are some suggestions that the James is someone Burlington has experienced.

You can read the viewpoint here.

A thought some might want to ponder:  Just how long does one think city hall itself will sit on that land?


409 with 423 shadowed

These are the two developments to be built across the street from city hall. The on on the front left is now under construction; the other has been approved for 17 storeys – they want what the other has been approved at 23 storeys.

421 James street rendering

City hall will be dwarfed by the developments on the other side of the street. A former Deputy City Manager described it as “iconic”.

In from the east

This might well be the view that people have as they enter the downtown core via Lakeshore Road. The building is stunning.

Let’s not limit the view to just what can be seen from the upper floors of city hall. The “football” is going to offer some stunning views that might get added to what will be visible right across from city hall.

model 3 d 0f the site

The downtown that some think is Burlington’s future.

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